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Keep it simple, Network Rail…

15 October, 2020

• MANY of us in Camden Town have received a poorly-written letter from Network Rail’s community relations manager.

I don’t question the need for the work or criticise the nearly three months’ notice of the work to strengthen railway bridges over Christmas and new year, but it is not clear from the letter exactly which bridges are meant by writing of “Camden Road and Chalk Farm Road” railway bridges.

The letter reference is “BOK1 4M 1665yds & CRC1 5M 425yds / Strengthening / CM” and that implies just two bridges and the Chalk Farm Road bridge is clearly stated as that near to Camden Market.

No trains will run between Camden Road and Canonbury for the duration and might there be road closures too?

It is not clear whether the bridges over Baynes Street, which I can see from my flat, are included. It is also not clear whether Randolph Street bridges or other pairs of bridges are.

The letter would have benefited from telling us, in plain English, exactly the bridges to be worked on. Maps and plans were invented for just this sort of thing.

At the very least, the letter should point us to a relevant page on the Network Rail website, but no. The letter may alarm some residents quite unnecessarily.

Anyway some helpful advice comes from a London railway enthusiast friend. The letter reference BOK1 4M 1665yds is an Engineer’s Line Reference (ELR) and should appear on a small oval bridge plate affixed to the wall of a particular bridge.

BOK means Broad Street to Old Kew Junction (via Hampstead Heath), BOK1 specifically is Broad Street to Camden Road Junction, and 4M 1665yds means that the particular bridge is four miles and 1,665 yards from Broad Street Station (once adjacent to Liverpool Street, it closed in 1986).

CRC1 means Camden Road Junction to Camden Road Viaduct and the datum is also Broad Street.

Arcane stuff but perhaps more helpful than the information provided by Network Rail; indeed, there is a website dedicated to ELRs (

Reachview Close, NW1


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