A website about the Bromley North Branch Line
PictureThe East Staircase approach.
The new footbridge just north of Bromley North Station opened today in the afternoon. I noticed that the barriers had been removed and so went to go and try out the new structure. The weather was harsh and rain and wind battered me mercilessly.  Three engineers were still there when I arrived,
"You're our first customer," says one and it was therefore with a mild sense of 'making history' that I climbed the East staircase, which goes to the side, giving passive provision for a lift to be installed in the future. From this staircase the structure looks quite graceful and impressive as it sweeps over to the other parapet; the span is quite long. I, accompanied by the engineers/ construction workers made my way over the deck, which is 2 metres wide and the wall the height that allowed me to see over the edge (just about). When I reached the other side though, I noticed that the lights on the west staircase were attached by bits of scaffolding. The engineering informed me that the entire staircase was temporary. He pointed at two large holes in the ground,
"The Staircase was going to go there but the local residents (points at a garden next to the holes) complained," Now the West staircase is to built further east, fouling the path of the former goods yard throat. It will be built after Christmas sometime, although I didn't get round to asking him whether the work will necessitate the closure of the footbridge again, or whether pedestrians could continue to use the temporary west staircase for the duration of the work.
Whist we talked a class 465 (4-carraige Networker) came in and out again on the rapid 3tph timetable, the unit laid on, no doubt to reduce the chance of the service failing in the extreme weather.
More photos of the new bridge can be found in the Gallery
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The footbridge to the north of Bromley North Station has been replaced.
            The original footbridge (below) was built to replace a level crossing in  the early 20th century and was quite expansive in length, intrestingly, it's replacement- a smart green structure, is the same length, despite the fact that it need not be due to the fact that the frieght tracks which the orginal footbridge spans were removed in the 1960s. One supposes that either it was cheaper to construct a longer deck then construct a new base or that Network Rail is keeping the option of using the former goods yard as stabling sidings for a future extension of the DLR, Bakerloo or Overground. The latter option seems less likely now that Network Rail is planning on developing the former goods yard.

Of course, the passing of the old footbridge is sad, expecially given it's elegance and also it's see through wall allowing small children like myself 7 years ago to see the trains! However the old footbridge had uneven steps and the structure was quite old and possibly loosing it's structural integrity, it is good to see Network Rail investing in keeping the infrastructure of the railway in order. The new footbridge is aesthetically pleasing and will no doubt last for  another hundred years or so.
For more images of the footbridge replacement click on this link.
A new bicycle shed has been erected at Bromley North Station which offers weather protection, easier access and larger capacity. It is important that low energy/ low pollution modes of transport such as the bike and the train work together against the more damaging/ energy demanding types such as the car and the plane- especially in the possible low energy future and now that climate change caused by pollution more or less will damage the world . This bike shed is a key example of this integration and although this project is not unique to Bromley North (they built a much bigger one at Bromley South) it is nevertheless a progressive step.
Toady I was walking down East Street towards the station when I saw a Police-Van with it's syrons blazing pull up by Yum-Yum's Cafe. Out came about 5 Policemen, who joined other policemen in surrounding the station, taking all the exits. They did this in such a manner which told you something was up- every policeman ran, some crouched also along with the noticeable men in plain clothes who joined in. This must have taken thirty seconds and during the time I upped my walking pace, then everything seemed to die down a bit, most of the policemen were in the building. When I got closer I saw through the front door a few of the bobbys surrounding 2 men- who I assumed were the criminals in question. I of course, not wishing to distract the men and women from their duties did not inquire as to what on earth was going on- even when another police-car drew up.
            I have received an email recounting the Bromley North of old- I am very much grateful for it.

"I remember as a five year old child lying in bed at night, we lived in Ronalds Road, listening to the shunting in the goods yard. It seemed to go on for hours as the trucks buffers clanged together. That would have been 1948. Sorry, no pics as no money for cameras in those far off days."

Funnily enough I also hear trains in the night- but not buffers, nor freight- just the screeches and electric motor noises as the 'Popper' comes in and out of Bromley North on it's late night runs.

Yesterday, her Royal Highness visited Bromley and I am pleased to report that Southeastern stepped up to the challenge of provided extra capacity for those wishing to witness the royal visit. This came in the form of a 4 carriage networker (465) which greeted me along with the Union Jack hanging from Yum-Yum's section of the glorious Bromley North station building as a waited to catch one of the last buses before the high street blockade.

A couple of days a go I noticed that the latest passenger figure for the UK's stations had somewhat sneaked past me when it was released in January, However having analyzed the 2010-11 figure I am pleased to report that Bromley North has emerged from 'passenger recession (!)' following the financial crises of 2008 with a growth figure compared to 2009-10 of 3.18%- which is classified in my table as 'green' growth. Unfortunately Sundridge Park's passenger figure has shrunk again by -6.17% from last year- this 'yellow' not-growth brings down the branch line's figure to -0.13% which is also 'yellow' not-growth. 
Like all businesses, governments and heritage railways this website blames lack of growth in the last few years on the financial crisis of 2008. And like all the aforesaid organizations we have have good reason to do so- the financial crisis resulted in many people losing their jobs and if a Bromley North/ Sundridge Park- London commuter no longer has a job in central London he probably won't need to go there. The recent green growth of Bromley North gives hope but negative growth at Sundridge Park has increased.
Once again the Bromley North branch line features in the timetable change poster and while December 2011 poster announced the branch's new status of a 3tph railway (barring sundays) this one informs the public that the branches peak timings have been altered to give better connections- the website press release reads as follows:

"Train services between Grove Park, Sundridge Park and Bromley North have been retimed to give better connections at Grove Park during Monday to Friday evening peak periods"

However, On reviewing both of the timetables I found that only the evening peak trains had been re timed- a total of 6 Grove Park- Bromley North trains. The 1657, 1717, 1803, 1823, 1845 and 1908 departures from Grove Park will leave instead at 1700, 1720, 1805, 1825, 1845 & 1910 respectively with their connection train running at the same time as normal. To put it bluntly- it makes the train later.  However I noticed that all the trains which were changed had a four minute or under connection time before- four minutes being the 'Recommended minimum connecting time' which Is grossly over-exaggerated- the average agile commuter could make it over that footbridge in under a minute but the disabled and eldery ect. must count even though they probably wouldn't be making the commute. The times were changed because they technically weren't a connection- which I suppose could count as 'better connections.'
Next time Sunday Services?
This website started up about a year ago (see archives) and regular news started about half a year ago but in that time I have noticed that the content has been mainly based around Bromley North. Perhaps this is justified- Bromley North takes three times the amount of passengers as Sundridge Park hence the name 'Bromley North Branch Line.' However there is a lot going on at Sundridge Park such as the refurbishment of the waiting room and surrounding facilities plus the general up-keep of the station (done extraordinarily well be the staff) and it's a shame that this news column- which is meant to represent the whole branch, misses out on this news.
Therefor I Issue a request for anybody out there who goes through Sundridge Park regularly to email bromleynorth@gmx.com and volunteer themselves to provide news (and possibly photographs) from Sundridge Park.
A Grove Park source would be equally welcome aswell!

At the start of the week the thing which we all knew was inevitably going to happen inevitably happened- the 4 Carriage (class 465) was replaced by the 2 carriage (Class 466). Was it foolish this time to think that the 465 would remain forever? Probably. These bouts of 465 usage are a yearly thing, usually in winter to avoid breaking down (more pick-ups) but they seem to go on unnecessarily far into spring like this year. It would interest me greatly to know why they use the 465s every now and again.
465s mean
- Much needed space in the peaks is provided
- Unnecessary fuel consumption and space in the off peak.
This is the problem with introducing 465s in the Popper. The peaks need 3-4 carriages but quite a few of the off-peak running s only need 1 carriage so even the 466 seems uneconomical at these times. This has been further exacerbated by the increase in off-peak trains although hopefully the increase in passenger numbers by the improved freqency will balance this out.

The usual tranquil-for-suburbia scene at Bromley North was disrupted when a man had a knife held to his neck in the 0925 train waiting to depart. The villain demanded to receive the man's blackberry and as a result of the circumstances the man gave it to him. Fortunately the victim escaped with no injuries except shock.
The local newspapers made a big deal of this which is why I have found out (I have no sources from within the industry) however they made it clear that the railway is a very safe environment. Indeed if one were to change modes to his car for commuting the risk of death would dramatically increase, in 2009- 922 people died in a UK car crash* compared to UK Rail Passenger Mortality total of guess what? - zero.
So in terms of safety Railways are king, most people will hopefully not be repelled from using the branch.

Another note, I have seen 465s (4 carriage version of the 466) operating the branch every week day (I haven't checked Saturdays). This is good for peak overcrowding, I am skeptical as to whether this is permanent as it did happen last year or the year before that but soon ceased. However it has been going on for a while now.

Website about the Bromley North Branch Line which runs between Bromley North and Grove Park with a intermediate stop at Sundridge Park