Lea Bridge Station

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Lea Bridge Station

Originally closed in 1985, a reintroduction of services along the Stratford branch of the Lea Valley lines in 2005 led to considerations and campaigns to reopen the station as part of wider plans for the redevelopment of Stratford and the lower Lea Valley.

On the back of the regeneration and funding of the nearby 2012 Olympics, the investment came to realise aspirations for reopening. Construction took 10 months, including the demolition of the existing station entrance and replacement with a new entrance and facilities of Argall way. Utilising and extending the existing platforms allows for 8-car trains to be accommodated, and construction of a new pedestrian bridge and lifts brings full accessibility to railway services.

The station brings train access of a 30 minute service frequency towards either Stratford or Tottenham Hale, stimulating regeneration in the area with effective connectivity.

The scheme is expected to deliver substantial benefits and very high value for money, with a Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) of 4.9.

Key Statistics

Location: Lea Bridge – London Borough of Waltham Forest
Key Stakeholders:
  • Network Rail
  • Transport for London
  • Abellio Greater Anglia (Train Operating Company)
  • London Borough of Waltham Forest
  • Department for Transport
Construction start date: August 2015
Construction completion date: Opened May 2016

Sources of funding

Funder

Value

London Borough of Waltham Forest: £5.034m
Stratford City Development (Section 106): £5.485m
Department for Transport (New Stations Fund): £1.131m

Lea Bridge station is located on the Stratford branch of the Lea Valley lines, with services north to Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne and south to Stratford.

The new scheme reinstates a station originally closed in 1985. When services were returned to the line in 2005, aspirations for reopening emerged to support local regeneration for an area dependent on bus transport and lacking in relative connectivity to job markets.

S106 Money and regeneration potential released by the nearby Olympic Park and Westfield Stratford provided the London Borough of Walthamstow means and cause to invest in improving transport provision and the local area.

Rationale for Investment

  • The reintroduction of service along the Stratford branch of the Lea Valley lines introduced potential for a new station.
  • The Lea Valley and Stratford areas have seen high population growth, with the station site on the edge of the Olympic Park.
  • Station catchment stands at 12,400 people with 28% growth in the last 10 years.
  • The local area had poor rail transport connectivity, with nearest alternative stations being Clapton (2km) or St James’s street (2.2km), with reliance on relatively slow bus routes.
  • Proportion of population who are economically active is lower than neighbouring areas, or the borough average.
  • Rail allows for relative ease of connectivity to job markets in Stratford, Tottenham, and further afield to Canary Wharf and the City.
  • The Westfield development at Stratford released money from Section 106 funds for transport investment in the area.

Existing station buildings and facilities had become dilapidated and unsafe following arson damage.

Scheme objectives

  • To proactively invest S106 money in local transport connectivity.
  • To improve access to future and existing employment and services sites by public transport.
  • To improve overall quality of local public transport connectivity.
  • To facilitate wider regeneration in the area.
  • To provide accessible, presentable and safe station facilities.

To passively provide for future extension for 12-car trains.

Appraisal and selection

Scheme development

Originally developed by the council using an external contractor to GRIP 2 (‘Feasibility’ ) the scheme transferred to Network Rail for development and delivery from GRIP 3 (‘Option Selection’) in 2013.

GRIP – Governance for Rail Investment Projects is the process that Network Rail uses to manage development and enhancement projects on the railway.

Scheme prioritisation

Externally politically led but supported by the industry.

Business case development

London Borough of Walthamstow and Transport for London developed the case for the scheme, with a successful application as part of Network Rail’s GRIP process and for application of additional funds from the DfT new stations fund. The case utilised the London Plan demand scenarios, and was expected to be well used with between 0.5 and 1.3 million users per annum depending on the service level offered at the station.

Serving a catchment of roughly 12,400 persons, which has grown 28% over the last 10 years. 60% of these people have Lea Bridge as their closest station, and the catchment currently has below average rail usage with high dependency on bus service. A new station will increase the job catchment area available to people and assist in economic regeneration of the area.

The Assumed Final Cost (AFC) of the project was estimated to be fixed at roughly £11.6m, which was nearly double the original expectation of an AFC totalling roughly £6.5m. This escalation of costs was due to initial estimations being compiled by an external agency with light assessment. Upon full interrogation through the GRIP process, it became clear project costs would be significantly higher than first envisioned.

Using TfL’s Railplan model, patronage and revenue forecasts were generated for Lea Bridge

Transport Knowledge Hub station using London Plan demand scenarios. A benefit cost ratio has been provided for the new station. Assuming that the current two trains per hour service level is retained, the scheme offered a Benefit Cost Ratio of 4.9 to 1. This was shown to increase further if service level on the line is improved, subject to route capacity and capability.

It is additionally demonstrated that the station operating costs can be funded from the additional revenue the new station generates, without abstraction from other local stations.

Implementation

The scheme was delivered by Volker Fitzpatrick as part of the Network Rail Anglia route multi-functional framework called the Anglia Route Collaboration.

As requested by the London Borough of Walthamstow, Volkers Fitzpatrick (VF) were paid in lump sum meaning that all risks associated with the project delivery either sit with VF (such as Japanese Knotweed clearance) or with the borough council. Network Rail held no financial risk with the project, although failure to deliver poses significant reputational risk.

Establishment of a project team consisted of the Network Rail sponsor, Network Rail project manager, and the VF project manager, with regular meetings throughout construction to ensure an effective final product delivery.

Collaborative events were held during construction with local school children to engage future users, and improve the quality of the area surrounding the station.

The project had not accidents or incidents, with implementation of a positive safety culture on site producing best practice for other projects. Handover to the operator, Abellio Greater Anglia, occurred one week early to fit out and familiarise the customer service team with facilities.

Evaluating the investment

Timing of activity

  • Good: Handover was completed one week early.
  • Signal relocated August 2015.
  • Overhead electric lines modifications complete – December 2015.
  • Lifts and bridge structure – December 2015.
  • Platforms extended and base course (with passive provision for further extension) – August – December 2015.
  • Station entrance finishing works – February – March 2016.

Project delivery

Good: the project did not use all of the contingency.

Stakeholders and partnership working

  • Good: Volkers Fitzpatrick and Network Rail partnership in delivery, with regular bilateral project management meetings.
  • Additional regular meetings with the train operator to ensure that the final product met their expectations.
  • Community engagement practices with local school children to collaborate with the community.

Unexpected outcomes

Numbers using the station are higher than predicted.

External factors

Network Change, the process by which Network Rail consults the industry on proposed infrastructure changes, was delayed in closing out an objection from a Freight operator.

 

Summary

Lea Bridge Station was reopened in 2016, having been closed in 1985, reintroducing train services on the Stratford branch of the Lea Valley lines, with services north to Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne and south to Stratford. The scheme is expected to deliver substantial benefits and very high value for money, with an expected economic return on investment at £4.90 for each £1 spent.

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