Crossrail 2 is a great idea – and a vital project to provide improved public transport in London. But the latest route announced this week still leaves local residents unclear about the threat to local marsh and parkland, and with crucial questions on its impact.
If the line gets built, fast, frequent trains would reduce overcrowding and encourage people to leave their cars at home. Locally journeys from Seven Sisters to Euston, St Pancras or Tottenham Court Road would take only 15 minutes with trains running through to Victoria, Clapham Junction, Wimbledon and beyond.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has been pushing for the route to go ahead and earlier this week he announced a revised route that could see the line open by 2029.
Impact on South Tottenham?
Much of Crossrail 2 would be built underground. However one branch of the line would emerge from its tunnel somewhere “to the south of Tottenham Hale”. At the moment the exact location is undetermined. This week’s consultation says:
“This change would result in a new location for the tunnel portal to the south of Tottenham Hale, although the exact location has yet to be determined. Further engineering feasibility work is being carried out to review options for the tunnel portal and the impact this would have on the area required. Once the location has been agreed, further consultation with stakeholders and the public will be undertaken.”
The satellite view reveals there is not a lot of space for this “tunnel portal”. Is the small area north east of Markfield Beam Engine Museum a possibility? And what impact would this have on the museum, Pistachios in the Park and the park itself? Or will the tunnel emerge further south, on the edge of Walthamstow Marshes near Coppermill Stream? Remember this is a “high frequency, high capacity rail line”.
What is the reasoning behind the line coming above ground south of Tottenham Hale? This area is predominantly residential interspersed with rare and valued open space.
Wouldn’t the tunnel portal be better situated in the predominantly industrial zone just to the north of Tottenham Hale?
More details on the overall plans can be read on the Crossrail 2 website. TfL is running a consultation until 25 July showing full details of the local route options. Question 7 of the accompanying online survey is a good place to raise concerns as it asks for “Comments about the route north of Angel”.
[UPDATE 14/7] Tunnel entrance at Coppermill Junction?
Research by southtottenham.org has revealed some interesting detail to these proposals. The document “Crossrail 2: Summary of Option Development” written in May 2013, specifies:
“… [Crossrail tracks] then surface to the south of Tottenham Hale close to Coppermill Junction.”
Coppermill Junction on Walthamstow Marsh
This is tantalising glimpse of what the plans may involve, in a document apparently written by infrastructure firm AECOM for TfL. The route south of Tottenham is still very much up for grabs in the consultation, but this suggests the plan is for a tunnel entrance on the edge of Walthamstow Marshes.
View over Walthamstow Marshes – under threat?
The document continues:
“The branch could then join the WAML at a grade separated junction.”
So the emerging tracks would join the existing main line (WAML) in a grade separated or flying junction, with tracks criss-crossing each other via an underpass or bridge. Then…
“The WAML may have been partially 4 tracked before Crossrail 2 is completed and the Crossrail 2 lines on leaving the portals would join the slow (suburban) lines”
This implies the track will be doubled from the existing two tracks running alongside Walthamstow Marsh, between the Warwick Reservoirs, past the corner of Markfield Park, over the River Lea, and up past Yarmouth Crescent and Jarrow Road into Tottenham Hale. Interestingly such tracks used to exist, and the remains of an old bridge can be seen over the Lea adjacent to the existing rail bridge.
Bear in mind Walthamstow Marshes are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and “one of the last expanses of semi-natural marshland left in London. Extending to 88 acres, they are unique in the Lower Lea Valley” (read more via the view from the bridge)
This is an inheritance worth protecting.
Would the users of Walthamstow Marshes and Markfield Park – together with local residents – not be served by the tracks emerging above ground somewhere beyond Tottenham Hale? Perhaps some of the wasteland between the Victoria Line sidings and Northumberland Park station could be used? This would have far less impact on our green, open spaces.
Another more community-friendly point to bring the tracks above ground might be just to the south of Angel Road station, by the derelict gas cylinders next to the North Circular. This would also by-pass the Northumberland Park level crossing which saw a person hit only last year – and is already rated with the second highest “Collective Risk Rating” of an incident involving a person or vehicle. No doubt this option would be more expensive – requiring subterranean platforms at Tottenham Hale and an extra 4km of tunnel – but has it even been considered?
Why is the current consultation documentation stopping short of spelling out these consequences? Is the plan really to “plonk” the tunnel exit in an environmentally and residentially sensitive area rather than industrial zoned land a little further north?
[UPDATE 18/7]“A highly sensitive location”
I have just received the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority response to the Crossrail 2 Coppermill Junction plans:
The ‘Regional’ option implies works to the Coppermill junction which lies on the northern edge of Walthamstow Marshes which is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. This is a highly sensitive location and construction should avoid this area. The Authority could not support any scheme which would result in an incursion into this area.
So, is this plan off the table? TfL haven’t told us. As the millfields blog points out today:
“TfL say they will consult again after they have decided how the railway will travel through the Marshes towards Tottenham Hale. This is the wrong way round. Local people deserve to be consulted on the range of options and to fully understand and comment on the implications before a decision is made.”
The TfL consultation only runs until 25 July – you can read more on their website and respond online here, where question 7 asks for “Comments about the route north of Angel”. Time to get writing…