diamond geezer

 Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sorry, the interesting post was yesterday. This is the...

Marshgate Lane Transport Update

Marshgate Lane bus stop
Five months ago, you may remember, the extension of cycle Superhighway 2 had unintended consequences for local bus traffic. As cyclists zoomed through along their semi-segregated lanes, bus passengers suddenly found that one particular stop had been permanently closed due to an almighty cock-up. At the Marshgate Lane bus stop, for unintended administrative reasons, a white line rather than a dashed line was painted along the edge of the blue superhighway. That meant buses weren't allowed to cross the line, so couldn't reach the bus stop, so TfL removed the bus stop altogether. Nearby residents were not best pleased. Buses now sailed past their front gates, a full half mile without stopping, leaving them in an unintended transport desert. Never mind that CS2 was usually empty and buses could have crossed the offending line in safety, the law was the law, and cycling trumped buses.

Well, good news. The Marshgate Lane bus stop has returned, with a minimum of fuss, replanted by the roadside and again accepting passengers. No longer do locals have to alight on the wrong side of the Bow Roundabout, or stay on until well past the Greenway. Now buses stop here again, cutting across the cycle lane to enter the layby, then crossing back into the traffic to continue towards Stratford. I took a ride yesterday and can confirm that the stop is already being well used. Now when 'Marshgate Lane' appears on the scrolling display it's possible to ding the bell and cause the driver to stop, rather than sighing deeply as they speed past up the road. It's not all perfect, though. On the D8 an electronic voice announces "There is a cycle lane behind this bus stop, use the crossing point" when this is patently untrue. A bus stop bypass exists at every other bus stop down Stratford High Street, but not here, because there isn't room. Instead bus passengers have it easy, they step straight onto the pavement, and it's cyclists who now need to watch out.

339 diverted
Look carefully at the route numbers on the Marshgate Lane bus stop and you'll see that one has been missed out. The 339 is missing, despite the fact that it runs up Stratford High Street and its buses currently stop here. But that won't be the case for long. Next Saturday the 339 is to be permanently diverted, serving the southern end of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from its opening day. At present the 339 does a loop round Fish Island to return via the A12 to the Bow Roundabout. Not from next weekend it won't. Instead (at long last) it'll continue north from Fish Island to Hackney Wick station, and then continue along Carpenters Road towards Westfield. There hasn't been a bus down Carpenters Road since 2007, indeed the road has only been reopened to traffic in the last fortnight. Back then it was the 276 which passed this way, but that route's diversion through Bow is now permanent, and it's the 339 that'll pick up the QEOP traffic.

The first stop in the Park is near the central bridge, below the Copper Box, where it'll be possible for visitors to alight and wander up onto the main concourse. There'll be another stop below the bridge that links Westfield to the Aquatics Centre, a fairly bleak spot at present, then another outside the Aquatics Centre proper. Two bus shelters await their first passengers, though they'll need to check carefully they're waiting at the right one because buses here will be travelling in a counter-intuitive direction. Before long the D8 will be stopping here too, but not until the railway bridge at the southern end of Carpenters Road has been cleared out, and there's absolutely no sign of that as yet. Meanwhile the 339 continues to Stratford City bus station, through the Athletes Village and on to Leytonstone. I believe there are still plans to extend the route to Whipps Cross, but only if sufficient stand space can be found, so no sign yet. Whatever, from runty backroads bus to Olympic Park feeder service, the 339's moment in the sun arrives next weekend.

Pudding Mill Lane station
Meanwhile it's all change up Marshgate Lane on the DLR next month. The old Pudding Mill Lane station lies in the way of Crossrail so must be removed, and the new station is nearly complete. It's now a long shiny elevated box, the glass panels along its length complete, and a far cry from the windswept halt at which passengers have waited for 20 years. It's also crawling with workmen, adding fixtures along the platforms, fixing lights on the stadium-sized staircases and riding diggers around the exterior. The concrete viaduct that'll divert the tracks is complete, and the main job which remains is to attach the new tracks to the old so that trains can pass through. That means a lot of engineering works in the weeks ahead, and a lot of line closures to facilitate change.
6th April: closed from Stratford to Bow Church
Thursday 17th April: Last day of the old station
18th-25th April: closed from Stratford to Bow Church (leaflet)
26th-27th April: closed from Stratford to Poplar
Monday 28th April: First day of the new station
3rd-4th May: closed from Stratford to Poplar
5th May: closed from Stratford to Bow Church
17th-18th May: closed from Stratford to Bow Church
The Easter closure is the big one - a full week from Good Friday until the following Friday, extending along the whole line the following weekend. This is so that the new double-track section can be properly linked, and the rejigged system fully tested before Pudding Mill Lane 2 opens to the public on Monday 28th April. Expect Boris to turn up. I think this is the only new station he gets to open this year, possibly even the last of his Mayorship, unless of course you know better. The largest station on the DLR network will then be ready for stadium crowds and West Ham home matches, once they finally kick off in two years time. It could be rather quiet and echoey in the new place until then.

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