Lincoln Road crossing

Lincoln Road crossing

A unique foot crossing, possibly the most unusual of all those to be found in London – and absolutely nothing like any of the other foot crossings anywhere in all of Greater London. This is the Lincoln Road crossing in Enfield and its one neither morthren nor Geoff M have covered! The crossing is supervised by a gate keeper and it has a ground frame. Until about 2012 it also doubled as a road crossing though an accident put a stop to that.

General view of Lincoln Road crossing with people passing over it and the keeper in attendance waiting for these people to complete their journeys. Someone has unfortunately already passed through the up side gate so he will have to allow them to pass through the down side gate which he will unlock briefly. The crossing is shut well in advance of the trains so there is sufficient time to accommodate these incursions.

I did all my video and photography with the crossing keeper’s full consent including the close-up shots of the lever frame.

The crossing itself can be found just a short distance south of Enfield Town station on London Overground’s line from Liverpool Street. Its as some will know, a fairly short branch of 2.16km approx (1.34 miles) off the Southbury (or Churchbury) loop at Bury Street Junction, with stations at Bush Hill Park and Enfield Town. Bush Hill Park is in clear view of the crossing however Enfield Town is just out of sight because the line curves somewhat to the west – although the first of the crossovers leading to the station can easily be seen just 100 metres (369 feet) from Lincoln Road crossing.

The crossing is closed to pedestrians/cyclists to allow a train from Enfield to pass. The levers can be seen thrown over in the locked position. This cyclist is looking to see if there’s a train coming. BTW the huge blocks of flats at the Alma Estate, Ponders End, can be easily seen from the crossing.

The train passes and the cyclist goes to the gate to wait for it to be unlocked.

As has been mentioned the crossing used to allow traffic across and this was mainly local traffic. Since about 2012 traffic has not been permitted however the adjacent foot crossing is still in use. What is most unusual is the crossing utilises a ground frame as part of the operations.

The reason for having a ground frame is its linked to the mechanism which locks/unlocks the crossing gates thus its an essential piece of infrastructure. The ground frame has four levers, and two of those are white (denoting out of use) but were formerly used to secure the road gates.

As that isn’t used now the gates are secured in place out of use thus are impassable. With lack of use (and maintenance) they have become somewhat rotten as one of my pictures shows. The other two levers are used to secure the side gates which are of course maintained as well as they can be – and which pedestrians use in order to cross the railway lines.

The down (Enfield) side gate showing the interlocking mechanism which holds the gate shut when the crossing’s levers are pulled.

The crossing keeper is based in a modern building at the side of the crossing where equipment related to the operation of the railway is kept (including monitors showing the working timetables, updates to those, live train status, line problems etc) and he is well aware of the system’s status right all the way down to Liverpool Street. If I am right he also works in conjunction with the Liverpool Street IECC ‘D’ signallers. The crossing keeper obviously knows quite well in advance whether trains are delayed or even cancelled. However the crossing keeper too has some local control upon the signals locally if any emergencies should arise at the crossing.

The four lever ground frame at Lincoln Road. Only the pair on the right are in use.

When a train is on the way the crossing keeper makes sure the site is clear before operating the levers. One secures the west gate (the down gate) and the other the eastern gate (the up gate) so that people intending to use the crossing will find the gates locked out of use. Once the train has been and gone he then releases the levers and the gates are unlocked, allowing people to use the crossing.

Close up of the levers with the two clearly labelled for the small kissing gates (in railway terms called a wicket!)

Its certainly very unusual as far as crossings go and I haven’t seen anything of this sort in years. Its without a doubt the last manually operated crossing in London. Yes there are other crossings with gates (eg those around Acton and Chiswick, Charlton, Mitcham, on the lines south of Raynes Park, west of New Malden and Barnes, not forgetting the many crossings on the Lea Valley line) however these are all remote controlled with automatic barriers.

Our crossing keeper is about to put the up side wicket gate into locked position.

The up side gate is now locked. Someone is going over the crossing so he waits for them to pass through the down side gate before locking that too.

There were proposals to build a footbridge here and thus retire the crossing off completely. However it seems Network Rail hasnt got the funds currently for this and so those plans first mooted about 2014, have been on hold.

Ironically there is a footbridge a short distance towards Bush Hill park. This is accessed off footpaths via Lincoln Crescent or Abbey Road (not the Beatles one!) Its just 181 metres (or 594 feet) from Lincoln Road crossing to the footbridge.

View form the crossing with the nearby footbridge visible. Bush Hill Park station is 605 metres (1986 feet) distant but very easily seen from here.

Observers will note the railway formation is wider north of the crossing. Stabling sidings once stretched from Enfield Town station as far as the crossing’s perimeter. Like a lot of things on our railways, these were deemed surplus to requirements and lifted many years ago.

View from the keeper’s cabin towards Enfield Town (the station is just out of sight.)

A look on Google Streets will reveal the crossing as impassable to cars, however looking at previous years (no later than 2012) that will reveal a trip over the crossing on Google’s car! Thus people can see how it formerly looked when it was open to traffic.

No longer in use for vehicles! Warning signs either side denote the crossings current status.

Whilst Network Rail are happy to maintain the foot crossing, the state of the larger gates show there’s no desire to bring the road crossing back in use!

If one looks at the current Google Street View of the crossing its clearly closed and one cannot ‘drive’ across. However going back a few years to August 2012 (or any other years back to 2008) one will find they can ‘drive’ across by courtesy of Google’s own street view car! The latest such an instance can be found is September 2012 – however its not so easy to find – so here’s that slightly later link.

If one wants to follow another vehicle over the crossing (in this instance a van) here’s the link. (its not the only example there are some others with various cars to be seen.) The image below shows a screencap of one of the instances where one can follow other traffic over the crossing courtesy of Google Streets.

The crossing once had a metalled surface, then a rubberised surface and then a concrete slab surface. A rarity to see so many surface types installed in the short space of a few years! The above view is from Google Streets for 2008 showing the rubberised surface. Its clear from these that Network Rail tried to improve the crossing in order to make it as safe as it possibly could be. It seems it was to no avail.

Nice old style (probably sixties) BR warning sign at the crossing in 2008. Source: Google Streets. (Note: These earlier perspectives no longer exist on Google Streets thus one has to zoom to see the signs as in the link to the October 2009 example.)

The guy working the crossing at the time of my visit told me he has been on the railways twenty years and the Lincoln Road crossing is certainly the most unusual aspect of his work. It doesn’t have a dedicated keeper, what happens is there is a pool of Network Rail staff who are qualified to work it and management draws people from that pool in order to ensure the crossing is manned at all times of the day that this is required.

Its not a particularly busy job, trains are generally every twenty minutes which means the crossing is open to the public for most of the time.

There’s another rather unusual aspect about this particular crossing as the picture below shows. The crossing is manned in the daytime (for a period of twelve hours) but not outside these hours – and so its presumably left unlocked. It escapes me somehow why they need to have it manned in the daytime when it doesn’t need manning at night!

For all I know its probably that it can get quite busy in the daytime….

This was a new notice with no vandalism of any sort thus ensuring a nice crisp photograph! That on the up side of the crossing was in poor condition.

Link to morthren’s new video covering the other existing foot crossings in the Greater London area (bar Angerstein Wharf and Lincoln Road.)

Another video here on the Lincoln Road crossing from southwest455.