Platform extensions at eastern Enfield stations ruled out

No funding available to allow longer ten-carriage trains used by rail firm Greater Anglia to open all their doors at borough stations, reports James Cracknell

Ponders End Station
Ponders End Station, where the platforms are not long enough for the new trains that stop there

Greater Anglia has said it has “no plans” to extend platforms at its stations in eastern Enfield to enable its new, longer trains to open all their doors for passengers.

Since last autumn, the rail operator’s new ten-carriage trains have helped boost capacity on the Hertford East branch line that runs via Enfield Lock, Brimsdown, Ponders End and Meridian Water stations – but only seven carriages can open their doors at these stations because of their short platforms.

It means passengers have to hurry towards the front of the train if they are in the rear three carriages and are caught unaware by the announcement of their carriage’s doors not opening – while passengers with buggies or bikes can even get stuck in the narrow aisles and be unable to disembark.

A further issue in the morning rush-hour is that the front carriages of trains travelling via Tottenham Hale to London Liverpool Street tend to be busier than the rear carriages because of passengers wanting to be closer to tube entrances when they arrive at these stations. But this can mean front carriages being too busy to board when they arrive at Enfield Lock, Brimsdown, Ponders End or Meridian Water, where passengers are unable to access the rear carriages because of shorter platforms.

Asked whether Greater Anglia had plans to solve the issues at these stations by extending platforms, as has been done at Ware and Broxbourne further up the line, a spokesperson said: “There are no plans to extend the platforms at these stations.

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“Platforms have already been extended at Broxbourne, Cambridge, Hertford East, Stratford and Ware to allow the full ten-carriages to fit as part of the project introducing the new fleet of trains. At all other stations, our trains are equipped with automatic selective door opening, meaning our ‘class 720’ commuter trains built by Alstom can stop there.

“Seven carriages can fit on to the platform at Brimsdown, Enfield Lock and Ponders End, but the trains’ open design means customers can move to sit in carriages that do not fit on to the platform. We will continue to monitor customer boarding and alighting patterns at all our stations.”

Enfield Transport User Group (ETUG) has warned the problem of short platforms is likely to be compounded after a new timetable is introduced in May, with more services starting journeys from Hertford East instead of Broxbourne, meaning the trains will be busier.

In a statement the group said: “The new trains are theoretically walk-through, allowing passengers to spread out along the train, but extremely narrow corridors between chairs mean that passengers struggle to move between carriages when the train is busy.

“It is lamentable and irrational that DfT [Department for Transport] have allowed this change [of timetable] prior to platform lengthening along the Lea Valley line being delivered and we expect severe overcrowding at the front of trains, particularly towards the front of trains at Enfield Lock, Brimsdown and Ponders End stations, without platform lengthening being delivered to facilitate a better distribution of passengers along the trains.”

Asked about the possibility of funding station platform extensions in Enfield, a Network Rail spokesperson said: “We have no allocated funding from central government to develop plans to extend the platforms at these stations. Selective door opening has been assessed as being a safe and efficient means of allowing the longer trains to stop at these locations.”

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