Let’s make this Lisa’s bridge

Lisa PontecorvoLisa Pontecorvo’s death in a tragic road accident has hit the King’s Cross community hard. Tributes to her have flooded into kingscrossenvironment.com, the host site of this blog. There are many calls for suitable memorials to this tireless local campaigner’s life including renaming Edward Square in her honour and a living memorial in the form of the campaign for access to King’s Cross/St Pancras (see letter below). Lisa remains an inspiration and is totally irreplaceable, our community is impoverished by our loss of her. The bridge we are calling for at the north end of King’s Cross Station is a highly appropriate metaphor on so many levels for her bravery, unceasing commitment to improving our environment and her single-minded determination. The campaign needs more activists to keep going. Can you devote just an afternoon or morning between 1-5 October – during the King’s Place opening festival – to stand and hand out leaflets asking people to join the campaign and sign the petition? Or can you make a contribution of time and/or expertise to assist? Please contact us as soon as you can.

Islington Tribune Letters page 26 September 2008:

Islington Tribune 26 Sept 2008

Network Rail & community engagement…

King's Cross Station & our bridgeI bumped into Alastair Metcalf of Network Rail yesterday so I grabbed the opportunity to ask some questions. Alastair is responsible for communications with the local community. He told me that Network Rail are currently engaged in a process called ‘Station Change’. It will decide on and roll out closures of shops and amenities in the main Euston Road entrance, making way for a new left luggage area and sign posting people to shops and amenities in St Pancras. They had not informed the community about ‘Station Change’ because they have not made any decisions yet. I asked Alastair to keep us up to date even when decisions have not been made. For example, letting us know that ‘Station Change’ was underway and what it’s scope is could have allayed rumours about what Network Rail is up to. However, Alastair reiterated that as no decisions had been made, the community was not informed. He did say that notices will go up in the Station informing passengers when decisions are made.

It is clear though, that we will be losing all the shops and amenities at Euston Road well before it closes, and long before the Western Concourse opens. St Pancras is seen as the replacement. And how do we get there? By doing a huge u-shaped walk around the entire station site. The bridge that we need crossing King’s Cross at the mid point is more urgent than anyone had anticipated.

It is very difficult for our community to feel that Network Rail are engaging with us, or even informing us, over the station redevelopment. Getting replies to basic questions by email remains almost impossible. We only find out about decisions after they’ve been implemented (Boots KX for example), engagement appears to mean telling us what they’ve decided once they’ve implemented it – this is a new definition of engagement for us.

A big question for folks out there – how can we deal with doublespeak? It feels like we speak different languages – what does engaging the community really mean? What does keeping the community informed mean? For Network Rail and the community these things have completely different definitions and are leading to some very unfortunate miscommunications. Perhaps Network Rail would benefit from talking to some community development specialists… Network Rail are planning a meeting in October to which the community will be invited, shame if we can’t sort out these fundamental communication issues before then. If you have any good strategies or ideas for coping with doublespeak, please let us know!

And don’t forget to sign the petition

Local heroes: Dodds the printers!

Dodds the printersDodds, our local printers on King’s Cross Road, delivered the campaign leaflets and posters yesterday. They have done a superb job, top notch quality print and paper – and they topped up the print run from 7,000 leaflets to 10,000 leaflets at no cost. In an earlier post I recommended Dodds. Now, I want to ask you all to use Dodds for all your print needs!!! Email them here.

So now it’s full steam ahead. Please contact us to get hold of leaflets and either A4 or A3 posters. Please distribute them as widely as you can – to neighbours, shops, pubs, libraries, anywhere you can think of… Return any you don’t use to us so that other people can use them. Email the campaign here.

Network Rail Corporate Responsibility Report 2007/8

Some interesting quotes:

“We aim to provide a safe, efficient and reliable railway fit for the increasing demands of the 21st century. We can’t achieve change by working alone – we need to work ever more closely with our partners, customers and stakeholders to make the difference.”

“We are working to improve customers’ experience at stations.”

“Work is also underway on the multi-million pound redevelopment of London King’s Cross station. The major benefits (more capacity, improved access, a new concourse)…”

“Community relations:
• Letting people know what will be happening
• Cutting down on noise intrusion
We are committed to being a good neighbour: our community relations team is responsible for the management of corporate relationships with over five million line side neighbours.”

“… keeping communities regularly informed of what we are doing and why, attending site visits and resident meetings, anticipating problems and working to pre-empt them and resolving problems that do arise quickly.”

“We are expected to run our business very efficiently. All the profits we make go right back into creating a better railway.”

“Network Rail is a key contributor to the role rail has in contributing to economic development and regeneration. We have route enhancement managers who work to develop mutually beneficial relationships with external promoters of enhancements to deliver schemes effectively. That can include using third party funds to redevelop and improve stations as part of a larger development project on neighbouring land, for example.”

Download network_rail_corporate_responsibility_report_2007_to_2008.pdf

Newspeak meets Network Rail

Handyside bridge closureWar is peace. Slavery is freedom. And now…. exclusion is inclusion. Thankyou Network Rail for building us a better station. Thankyou for permanently closing the Handyside Bridge yesterday, an historic day marking the end of east/west access across the station. Thankyou for ending our centuries old right of way. Thankyou for letting your contractors force us into the dangerously busy York Way. Wonder what you have in store for us next? But then, we are only the local community… and we are on the wrong side of the tracks. Why should you concern yourselves with the Eastern Bloc? Silly me.

If you ever travel to/from King’s Cross or St Pancras on any overground services you can help

Train operatorsPlease find below an Excel file containing the contact details for the train operating companies that use King’s Cross or St Pancras Stations (corrections/additions welcome). If you ever use their services and are able to write to them as a customer, please, please do! Also below is an example piece of text you might like to copy and use as part of your letter and a copy of the campaign poster that you might like to print out and enclose with your letter. Do email us a copy if you are able to do this, just so we can keep a list of companies that have been approached – similarly if you get a response please let us know. Good luck!

Download train_operating_companies.xls

You may be aware that as a result of Network Rail’s current redevelopment of King’s Cross Station all entrances to the station are to close, replaced by a single entrance on the far western side. This is to enable Network Rail to build a new longer Platform Y to the east of Platform 1, and to remove the false frontage to the station revealing the original Cubitt design. These initiatives are to be welcomed, however not without Network Rail replacing the loss of public access that will result from their plans.

The north eastern side of the station has had access to King’s Cross, St Pancras and beyond at the junction of Wharfdale Road and York Way for centuries, this was maintained by a road bridge over the tracks until the 1920s. Since then we have had access to both stations via Platform 1 and across the soon to be demolished Handyside Bridge.

Permeability and accessibility of stations is a vital issue for customers, train operating companies and non-rail users alike. Complete loss of permeability at King’s Cross, and therefore access to St Pancras is a major concern and I am writing to ask you to take this up with Network Rail. Although I am a supporter of the local campaign to address this (see enclosed leaflet), I am aware that you as a direct customer of Network Rail could have a great influence.

Well over 3,400 people currently use the north eastern entrance. This figure is likely to double come October due to local property development, and will continue to increase after that. If Network Rail fail to replace the access they intend to remove, these passengers, many customers of yours, will be condemned to use considerably longer and highly unsuitable routes to the stations.

I would be most grateful if you could take this up with Network Rail and let me know how it goes.

Download leaflet_single_sided.pdf

Bridge Dreams – a cut out and keep series No. 3!!

Medway bridgeSudden thought – there’s no reason our bridge shouldn’t take a lead from the new expanded bridge across the River Medway in Kent. It’s kind of three bridges combined: one for traffic going south, one for traffic going north and one for the Eurostar. We would have a split bridge too… one for pedestrians and one for cycles. Mmmm. Food for thought!

A big thanks to Dodd’s the printers

Dodds the printersTo help us get the most from a generous donation by P&O Estates and Regent’s Quarter Ltd, Dodd’s the local printers will be topping-up our print-run of leaflets and posters.

I spoke to Susan at Dodd’s this morning, she’s frustrated that Network Rail are phasing out the historically important Thameslink Station entrance on Pentonville Road. Local experts will know that this used to be the entry to the Metropolitan Railway, part of London’s first underground system running from Paddington to Farringdon. It’s a very popular entrance taking station users from all over the south east side of King’s Cross safely and directly to their trains, avoiding the horrendous mess that is the dangerously overcrowded Euston Road/York Way/Pentonville Road/Gray’s Inn Road pedestrian crossing.

Susan agreed that the bridge for those on the north east side is important. Together we bemoaned the fact that the King’s Cross community seems condemned to constantly fight its corner. Without the community pointing out that we exist and have transport needs, we have always tended to be forgotten.

So, thankyou to Dodd’s for their support. If you have print needs can I recommend Dodd’s to you? A local independent company on the corner of King’s Cross Road and St Chad’s Passage. Contact them directly.

The list of local businesses supporting this campaign continues to grow!