Putney Station upgrade meeting tomorrow

Published: 15 December 2014

Rail bosses will be at Putney Station tomorrow (Tuesday) from 3pm to 5pm to answer questions about delays to the ongoing station refurbishment project.

The officials will be talking to commuters inside the main entrance on Putney High Street.

The council has repeatedly challenged Network Rail over the lack of progress with the station upgrade and a series of missed deadlines. The original completion date was March 2014.

Progress has been made recently with the lifts and information screens now working and more space created inside the main entrance.

Councillors are encouraging local people to attend the meeting tomorrow and to press for the remaining work to be completed as soon as possible.

The council’s transport spokesman and deputy leader Jonathan Cook has spelt out the authority’s concerns to Network Rail’s chief executive Mark Carne. His most recent letter reads:

“What should have been a good news story at the beginning of this year has turned into a tale of misery for our residents and workers.

“The Council and local residents welcomed Network Rail’s plans in 2012 to upgrade Putney station and make it fully accessible, as it had become overcrowded in peak hours, completely inaccessible due to long flights of steps to the platforms, and in need of modernisation. We also welcomed Network Rail’s publicity of their plans at the end of 2012, when we were told that the project would be completed in March 2014.

“However, since then works have progressed slowly and users of the station have been subjected to a much longer period of inconvenience than originally envisaged, with longer walks to the platforms via a temporary footbridge and additional flights of steps.

“We have been particularly frustrated by Network Rail’s seeming inability to provide a clear timetable for their work when it became very apparent that original deadlines were not going to be met. The same problem had arisen with your earlier works at Earlsfield Station, and it was our understanding from your colleagues that the Earlsfield experience would not be repeated at Putney, particularly the shortage of public information for station users. Regretfully, this has not happened.

“The deadline for completion of work first got extended from March to July 2014, and in June we were assured that the work would still be finished by the end of July, despite there being no sub-station installed to provide power for the lifts.

“In August we managed to have a meeting with your colleagues and Putney MP Justine Greening, when we were led to believe that the lifts would be available from 15th September, and fully operational by the end of October when the sub-station work was expected to be completed. The ticket barriers were also supposed to be moved by early September, and the passenger information screens fully operational in the same timescale. We were also advised that a phase 2 would start in January 2015, to include an improved frontage, new canopy over Platform 1, movement of the ticket office and ticket machines, and improved retail experience.

“Despite these assurances, the station has remained in a half-completed state and there has been little noticeable progress, although we have been told that the lifts may open for use today, 5th November. Particular areas of concern, beside the issues I have listed above, are:-

  • The station appears to have been “designed on the hoof”, with no clear overall timetable. When the project was supposedly only four months from completion, we were advised of the need to remove a shop unit on the street frontage to install an electricity sub-station to power the new lifts, yet we were being told that the project would still be completed in March 2014. This shop unit is prime retail frontage in Putney High Street, and it is most unfortunate that this should have been sprung on the Council so late in the project, and not considered at the planning stage a year earlier.
  • The lack of a clear plan for step-free access into the street, even at this late stage, notwithstanding the Council’s suggestion of raising levels across the forecourt: the Council’s plan was submitted, as instructed, to your Outside Parties Team many months ago: this team appears to be totally disconnected from the station project, and operating to a different agenda from the rest of your organisation.
    The continuing lack of live train information in the booking hall for passengers has been made worse by the windows of the footbridge being covered with an opaque film to stop passengers viewing the platforms to see where to expect the next train.
  • The canopy over the main London-bound platform has been removed to facilitate the works, and the original intention of replacing this in January has now been delayed, so that most peak hour commuters will have to wait in the open throughout the coming winter.
  • The lack of urgency seemingly attached to the completion of these works by both Network Rail and South West Trains.
  • Continuing delays to the finalisation of Network Rail’s response to the Council’s proposals for a secondary entrance to the station from Oxford Road, which we completed last year.

“I would be grateful if you would investigate why we have had to endure this shambolic process and use your influence to bring this project to a speedy conclusion.”