TRANSPORT for London (TfL) will abandon plans to ban residents from using the footbridge at Olympia station as a shortcut to their homes after a concerted campaign by neighbours and the council.
TfL had wanted to install ticket barriers at the two entrances and exits to the station in a bid to crack down on fare dodgers, effectively stopping residents using the bridge which crosses the railway line.
But it has now scrapped the idea, meaning the footbridge shortcut between Olympia Way and Russell Road will continue to be used. Hundreds of people use it each day as a public right of way and have done since World War Two.
The council successfully forced TfL into looking at alternative ways to keep the pathway open but also stop commuters from evading fares and, after working through several options with the councils, will now instead install ticket gates that divide the station and bridge into two separate ‘lanes’.
One lane will be for train travellers, who will have to pay to get onto the station’s platforms, and another will be a ‘free’ side that people can still use to walk across the bridge. There will be a fence to separate the pedestrian route and an extra staircase will be built to avoid congestion.
Council transport chief Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler said: "This is a victory for common sense. This council puts residents first and we fought for local people. I am glad TfL agreed to our alternative suggestion of two lanes across the bridge, which is a lot easier for everyone, and means that this historical pathway stays open.
"While we back TfL’s stance on tackling fare dodgers, to do it at the expense of local people was simply not right. This way, residents can still get to their homes easily and TfL can continue to fight the fare dodgers – everyone wins."
TfL says ‘ticketless travel’ at the station – near the popular conference and exhibition venue – is as high as 10 per cent, while across the rest of the overground network it is just two per cent.
Preparation work for the new gates and staircase will began on Monday with main construction work starting in June. TfL expects that the work will be completed in July. It will not affect commuters.