East Croydon station could be moving to a new location if plans for a major railway upgrade in the area are approved, and funding found.
It’s all part of a plan to fix what is known as the Croydon Bottleneck, a section of the railway between the station and Selhurst junction to the north which is a major connection of several railways.
As anyone who travels through Croydon knows, there are often delays here as trains cross over tracks to get between different lines, and the main aim of the whole project is to build a number of flyovers and flyunders so that trains are no longer held up waiting for crossing traffic.
That then staggers the problem slightly to the south where East Croydon station is, and it also acts as another bottleneck. Network Rail has been working on plans to add two extra railway tracks and the junction upgrade so that the bottleneck is relaxed and delays reduced.
But they hit a problem.
It became apparent when more investigations were carried out following an earlier consultation that they needed to be even more ambitious. Not two more tracks but three, and the only way to fit all that in, is to move East Croydon station itself.
At the moment, East Croydon station has six platforms, with long ramps leading up to the ticket hall above. They need to build two more platforms so that there’s enough capacity to allow trains to stop at the station instead of waiting for platform space and clogging up the railway tracks to the north of the station.
The difficulty of the site is that as wide as it is, it’s not wide enough, with buildings on either side, so they’ve come up with a totally new plan. Move the station.
The proposal will see the station move around 100 metres northwards and a totally new station built there instead. At the same time, all the platforms will be rebuilt, one at a time, and all the modern expectations of lifts and accessible access provided – and the horrible long ramps will be replaced with escalators.
What is currently a footbridge linking the platforms to the northern end of the station would become part of the new southern entrance.
The downside is that people using the bus and trams who currently arrive right next to the station will now have a short walk, probably across a new plaza over the railway, but the upside is that the station can now have a much larger northern ticket hall as well as the replacement southern ticket hall.
The proposals would keep the existing station open during the works, although they will need to reduce 6 platforms down to 5 during construction works to create space for the additional two platforms they want to add.
They will also add three more railway tracks — originally going to be two — and to do that they need to demolish and rebuild a major road bridge that crosses the railway.
A bit further to the north of the new station is Selhurst Junction, which has the tangled appearance of a pair of headphone cables after they’ve been left in a trouser pocket for 10 seconds.
To untangle the mess, they propose replacing a number of flat junctions with flyovers, so that trains won’t have to wait when passing each other. In total six new viaducts will be required to achieve “grade separation” of the key routes.
The long term aim is to remove the bottleneck so that trains from London Bridge and Victoria through East Croydon don’t keep spending time waiting outside the station to get through it.
If they get planning and funding, then due to the staggered nature of the works while maintaining a running railway, it’ll take a decade from start to finish to complete.
There had also been some talk about building on top of the station to help fund the upgrade, but Network Rail has ruled that out stating that the difficulties of doing it would not be justified.
A consultation opens on Monday about the plans – details here.