One of London’s last railway foot crossings to close?

Could it be curtains (or an 8 foot steel fence) for one of London’s last remaining foot crossings near Westcombe Park station?

A letter has been sent to local residents advising them of upgrade work in the area. The letter suggests this will then result in freight trains waiting closer to the main lines when exiting the Angerstein branch line and thus the crossing will close.

Towards Angerstein Wharf

It’s a real quirk in London – especially with contemporary safety culture – and losing it would be a real shame. It’s also handy for pedestrians heading to and from Westcombe Park station – including the hundreds who will be moving to 341 new flats on Victoria Way now under construction.

Towards the junction and main lines

Work covering a week long period will reconfigure track and signalling from the 13th April to the 21st. In Network Rail’s words that means pedestrians are more likely to come into contact with trains. Yet trains move at just 5 mph, there’s barely any of them and staff act as lookouts.

This video by Geoff Marshall shows what happens when a train arrives.

Network Rail are proposing to demolish the concrete steps, install security palisade fencing and signage.



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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

17 thoughts on “One of London’s last railway foot crossings to close?

  • Surely its a right of way – although I know the law is different in London. I think it was a farm footpath before the railway was built – guess it could be challenged in court, and no record of accidents that I know of

  • Have never got around to visiting this crossing but did get a guided tour around what was the United Marine Aggregates yard, a few years back. The view along the Thames from the top of the aggregate silos, near to the River, is amazing!

  • I’ve sent network rail a message asking them to clarify their plans. There’s a bit of ambiguity in the letter for me. Do they plan to close the crossing from the 13th to the 21st, or permanently? I’ve really pushed the point of the novelty and uniqueness of the crossing and, as far as I am aware, there have been no incidents involving pedestrians whilst I’ve lived here (20 metres from the entrance path). If you hear of any developments with this please let me know as we are really worried about losing this local joyous anomaly.
    Many thanks for your ongoing articles,

  • I lived in Humber Road until I was 27 and had no idea of that crossing, although I never dared use the footbridge over the Blackwall Tunnel approach.

  • Seems strange to do this at such short notice and frankly a bit dismissive of local people. In any evidence based assessment, this crossing is many times safer than crossing a local road – clear sight lines either way, very few movements and low speeds.

    You might try raising it with Sir Peter Hendy on Twitter, I have seen him reply to things or take them away for investigation.

  • My house is one that backs onto this crossing, and I would say the number of people using it every day is well in the hundreds. Even though a permanent closure would mean more privacy for our property, I think it’ll be a huge loss to local residents, particularly as FTMD has recently highlighted how horrible the other public walkways and crossings are coming from Westcombe Park station.

  • This crossing was there in the 1860s although it appears to be a tunnel under the Angerstein Line. It is on the 1869 OS map as a cut through from the chalk pits – then working- to Coombe Farm. It is also on the 1895 OS as a tunnel from again to the farm.

    It should appear in some of the info for the Angerstein Line. There was no Act because it was on private land but there must be a route map showing crossings – they may have needed to prove to Parliament tht there was no need for an Act.

    A little bit of research is all that is needed

  • I would be gutted if this was to close. Not sure if the below helps in this case but the path has been of public use for over 20 years so there might be some options to stop it. Ive also emailed Network Rail for more info and stated what a loss it would be:

    • I emailed our councillors and got a very speedy reply……

      Dear Phillip,
      I am utterly appalled by the lack of consultation and agree with all the points in your email. We only first heard of this about an hour ago.

      I have sent the information to our Head of Legal Services.

      Yours sincerely,
      Stephen Brain

  • I fear the Network Rail will use the upgrade works as an excuse to close the crossing altogether. There may even be mutterings about health and safety despite the lack of evidence of any harm to users.

  • I telephoned Network Rail’s helpline (03457 11 41 41 – the number given in the letter posted here The helpful person I spoke to is going to find out more for me so I’ll report back when I hear. He wasn’t sure that the letter definitely meant that the crossing would be permanently closed (it *could* but letter ambiguous). He thought it might just be closed for the duration (at which point I asked “what about the steps being demolished?”) and he suggested it might be replaced with an accessible path instead.

    That certainly seems too good to be true! But he’s aware that others might call and that it might be a good idea to get some info to have to hand. I had to spell Angerstein and explain where it is and what it is.

    I’d bleat a lot less if it was replaced with anything more accessible, whether through-tunnel or better path, but I’m not sure there’s enough distance to fit a nice sloping path in. Would be a shame to lose the crossing as it’s rather fun and a nice local quirk.


  • I just had a reply from Network Rail:

    Thank you for contacting us with regards to the footpath over the Angerstein railway.

    In order to make the infrastructure safer, the track and signalling in this area must be reconfigured to enable safer operations and stop the risk of derailments.

    The reconfiguration will mean that freight trains exiting Angerstein Wharf are more likely to sit on the crossing while waiting to exit the Wharf onto the mainline. This will increase the risk of the public coming into contact with moving freight trains and the only way to mitigate against this is to permanently close this crossing.

    I am also able to inform you that there are no rights of way across this footpath crossing.

    We are unable to build a tunnel under the railway, however there are alternative ways around the railway which are of a short distance.

    The safety of the public and our passengers is of the utmost priority and importance.

    Kind regards
    Paula Williams

  • Is there any way we can persuade them to put a automated crossing barrier in, if the ‘safety of the public and our passengers is of the utmost priority and importance’. It is more likely to be a financial decision. There are only two trains a day. If the crossing were closed twice a day it would be of very little inconvenience to the hundreds of people that use this route to and from work. Paula Williams is the Community Relations Executive at Network Rail, it is almost impossible to find a direct contact for her, but please make your opinions heard by contacting them.
    Network Rail’s helpline 03457 11 41 41
    @networkrail on Instagram
    @networkrail on Facebook

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