Thursday, 13 October 2011

Network Rail supports current anti-walking, cycling junction at Blackfriars. Expect more of the same at Paddington, Moorgate, Tottenham Ct Road

One of the main exits from Blackfriars. Note how people walk outside
the barriers rather than use subway. Then leg it across slip road.
Not very pedestrian-friendly.  And staying that way.
Yesterday, 2,500 people cycled and walked across Blackfriars Bridge to protest about the scheme designed by the Mayor's Transport for London. They were supported by politicians from Labour, the Conservatives, the LibDems and the Green Party. Full-party support, in other words. All of them on bicycles.

For excellent images of the evening, look at the London Cycling Campaign pages here.

Today, the LibDem's transport spokesman re-iterated the views of the LibDem party: "I feel that the proposal is not fairly balanced. It favours smoothing the traffic flow for motorists and worsening conditions for pedestrians and cyclists".

Latest news just in from Network Rail. And, more specifically, from Simon Kirby, Director, Investment Projects. Network Rail is funding much of the junction that is designed by Transport for London.

Read the following email exchange. Then think what sort of cycling and walking infrastructure you won't be seeing at other Network Rail investment sites elsewhere in London. And there are dozens of them at the moment. In other words, expect more anti-cycling thinking of this kind of thing at Crossrail and Thameslink stations near you - Paddington, Moorgate, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road:

Politicians line up last night to condemn Blackfriars scheme:
source LCC and Ben B
Letter to Network Rail

Dear Mr Kirby,

This is just to make you aware of the alternative design for the junction North of Blackfriars bridge that has just been produced by LCC

As you see, it is significantly better for station customers, offering easier and faster ways of crossing the road, better (and much safer) cycle access, and a better road environment, than the design that TFL intends to build.

I wonder, given that Network Rail is funding most of the works on this junction, whether you might be prepared to contact the Mayor to express your support for this improved design?

Thanks very much

Response from Simon Kirby, Director, Investment Projects, Network Rail
From: Kirby Simon
Date: Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 12:30 PM
Subject: Re: blackfriars
Thanks for your email. As you’re aware we’re currently rebuilding Blackfriars railway station to provide for growing passenger numbers, longer trains and more frequent services.
The coming years will see substantial growth in the number of people using Blackfriars station, and changes need to be made to the road network around the station so that it can cope with an increased volume of pedestrian traffic.
The road junction north of Blackfriars bridge is owned and maintained by TfL. As such they have taken the lead in designing and delivering a new road layout to accommodate all road users over the coming decades.
We’ve worked closely with TfL to ensure their road layout is compatible with our station designs and we fully support their plans.
Simon Kirby 
Network Rail vs the people of London and their representatives? Make what you will of this exchange. It certainly set me thinking.


  1. That sounds as though Network Rail haven't even looked at the LCC design in detail. Could you press for a detailed explanation of why they prefer the TfL design?

  2. Not to excuse TfL's behaviour but...
    I had actually heard a rumour at the start of this whole thing that Network Rail had given TfL an initial design to work within, which pretty much guaranteed a fast tear-drop shape design.

  3. Simon Kirby "enjoys sailing, cycling and supporting Liverpool FC". (From his bio.)

    base don his ringing endorsement of TfL, this would suggest he actually watches Manchester United ...

  4. simon.kirby(at)

  5. Pedant note: that pic isn't an exit from Blackfriars station, but is further east along Queen Victoria St. Pedestrians do, though, go outside the barriers at that crossing (I've done it myself) because there's no safe way across White Lion Hill, which heads down to Blackfriars underpass.
    Just like they used to go outside a similar barrier at the Cannon Street junction with Queen Victoria St, heading towards St Paul's. But the City Corporation has remodelled the crossing (still in its old configuration here,-0.09395&spn=0.00135,0.003433&oe=UTF-8&safe=active&hq=queen+victoria+street&radius=15000&t=h&z=19&vpsrc=6&layer=c&cbll=51.512426,-0.094105&panoid=QsBU-y1INXhhlce7t4YPyw&cbp=12,280.23,,0,0) and now much safer for walkers.

  6. Pedant note 2: Network Rail are only involved with the bits of Crossrail that are on the existing parts of the railway network, in other words everything up until and away from the portals of the new tunnel going underneath central London. So they have nothing to do with Crossrail stations at Paddington (new station and associated infrastructure underneath the existing station), TCR, Moorgate and Liverpool Street (see Paddington). Of course these bits are being delivered by Cross London Rail Links (or Crossrail) which sits under the umbrella of... Transport for London!!!

  7. i would guess they are, however, involved in planning the prospective road improvements around king's cross/st pancras - where i think tfl are planning essentially cosmetic changes to a very dangerous road system...

  8. It is possible that the junction might look better in an arial photo for the launch of the new Blackfriars station - a nice smooth teardrop...

  9. Phew! This one is quite an tricky subject. Network Rail are over seeing the construction of some of the new Cross Rail stations, and Transport for London others. They're responsible for the space up to and including the boundary of the building. The space outside (whilst often remodelled using Network Rail cash) is the responsibility of the local authority who looks after those roads. So for example, at Farringdon it's the City of London and Camden. At Blackfriars, it's Transport for London (as it is at TCR, Liverpool St etc)

    What is stupid of course, is that Network Rail know very clearly that imrpving access for the "after rail market" (ie for people on foot and on bikes) is really good for their business model. So you'd think they'd be pressing for more people friendly streets, right?


    When your annual bonus relies on getting a station and it's surroundings open to a schedule you'll slap in any old road scheme to ensure you meet your deadline and get the cash. Cheap and easy road schemes win out and we all suffer the consequences.