Could A Hackney Junction Station Be Created?
Today, I was returning from Stratford station and did what I often do now and that is get off the Overground at Hackney Central station and get a 38 bus to just round the corner from my house. Ideally, I would like to take the disused Eastern Curve to walk from Dalston Junction station. But this would be a difficult route to reinstate. It would also be expensive, with not much change left from a million pounds.
The change at Hackney Central only takes a few minutes, but it involves using an overbridge to cross the North London line and a U-shaped walk to get to the bus stop on Graham Road.
But I wouldn’t like to do it in a few years or with a child in a buggy or in a wheelchair. There used to be a walkway at track level, but this was demolished, when the North London line was truncated to Dalston in 1944.
So could anything be done to improve the station? Let’s start by looking at an aerial view of the two stations and the surrounding roads coutesy of Google.
The first thing you will notice is that there is a surprising amount of greenery and trees, especially along the line running westwards from Hackney Central station.
There is also car parking to the north of Hackney Central on Amhurst Road, which could be developed for something more worthwhile.
Returning to ground level, I took this picture of the old station building for Hackney Central, which sits on the corner of Mare Street and Graham Road.
This is surely worth preserving and using for something better than as a prop for the railway. Note the alleyway that leads to the new station buildings at the side.
This station is very similar to Camden Road station, also on the North London line, and like that station, I suspect Hackney Central also featured an underpass to get to the line on the other side. If this could be reinstated, this would remove one of the main problems of the station and that is having to use the overbridge to get to and from the westbound platform. I can manage it OK after a stroke, but I couldn’t if I was a young mother with twins in a double buggy.
I’m no architect, but I feel that a good one, with an understanding of structures could create an imposing station at the Hackney Central end of the combined station. As I said before there is space to the north of the station, which could be used as either a bus interchange, a square with cafes and other meeting places or niche retail. Or perhaps all three to create somewhere you might go to meet someone before walking the Lea Valley, going shopping at Eastfield or to the football at White Hart Lane.
The Hackney Downs end on the other hand doesn’t offer such a good collection of buildings on which to create a statement as you could at Central. So perhaps you just do something with the staircases and give it a good or as I said earlier, a wild coat of paint.
To connect the two stations you have three options.
- The simplest would probably be to signpost a preferred route, perhaps cutting the current distance slightly by sneaking in at the back of Hackney Downs.
- You could also put controlled crossing in at the two stations, so that the bus routes that served both stations could be used to bridge the gap.
- Or you could create a Hackney Skywalk alongside the two railways, above the streets below. Whether this could be done meeting all of the safety regulations, I do not know, but it would be a statement of intent of two rail lines and one station.
Finally, the buses in the area need a bit of reorganisation, especially if the North London Line continues to carry more and more passengers and the stations get full step-free access.
- Some buses for instance, like the 30 and the 277 almost parallel the line from Hackney Wick to Highbury and Islington, so perhaps some simplification could be envisaged.
- The 38 goes all the way to Victoria from Hackney, as does the 73 from Stoke Newington, so perhaps if Hackney had better connections to the Victoria line, some passengers might take that route.
- The new North London Line has shown that if you provide good east-west links in North London, they’ll get used. So perhaps, there is a need for a bus from somewhere like Archway to Walthamstow.
If nothing with this ramble, I’ve proved one thing. There are endless possibilities about what can be done to improve public transport in Hackney and up the Lea Valley.
To be fair to, to the Council, they have a lot of useful information and alternative plans on their web site.