Disabled bus users left stranded by W7 diversion in Crouch Hill – as Network Rail says shuttle would cost too much

The W7 at Crouch Hill in happier times. Picture: Matthew Black/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The W7 at Crouch Hill in happier times. Picture: Matthew Black/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) - Credit: Archant

Disabled bus users have been left without transport until the end of April after the only service to and from Crouch Hill was put on diversion and Network Rail ruled out a £140,000 temporary shuttle.

The W7 is unable to follow its usual route because the railway bridge is closed between Trinder Road and Japan Crescent while the work to the overhead rail line is carried out.

Now Network Rail and TfL have been accused of “robbing people of their freedom” by cutting off all transport links for the area.

Love London (@StaySafeLondon) wrote on Twitter: “Disabled and elderly cannot continue to wait for this to be sorted. When will a solution be available? This has to be dealt with immediately.

“A replacement minibus from Finsbury Park to the top of Crouch Hill will help these residents get their freedom back.”

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The calls for a hopper bus to be set up have been backed by Islington’s transport chief Cllr Claudia Webbe, but Network Rail says it will not pay the £2,000-a-day cost, which would total £140,000 for the whole 10 weeks.

Islington leader Cllr Richard Watts has also weighed in, saying he was unhappy with how Network Rail had handled the project and urging the rail firm to “pay up”.

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He said: “The works are the responsibility of Network Rail and we’re unhappy at the overall management of this project. We’ve been pressing them for better support for local residents with little joy so far.”

He also said the town hall had no control over the road closures.

Cllr Webbe said a hopper bus seemed “reasonable” and revealed she is still awaiting the results of an equality impact assessment she requested from Network Rail “some time ago”.

A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “We appreciate this diversion will have an impact on local residents, particularly the elderly and disabled and we worked with local councils to minimise these impacts.

“While we would have liked to provide a shuttle bus service, as a public sector body, we must meet our financial obligations and this service simply wouldn’t have been affordable.”

The spokeswoman said it had sent letters to 23,000 people in the area explaining that anyone facing difficulties could contact a 24-hour helpline on 03457 11 41 11.

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