‘Misused’ level crossing footpath on St Albans estate must reopen, Network Rail told
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 August 2015
Network Rail has been told to re-open a level crossing footpath in St Albans where nearly 250 incidents of misuse - including someone lying on train tracks - were recorded over a nine-day period.
The authority suddenly closed the heavily-used crossing over the Abbey Flyer railway in Cottonmill estate on Tuesday.
But county councillor for St Albans south, Sandy Walkington, has criticised the move as no alternative provision has been made.
He said although there have been initial discussions between the county council and the firm about a replacement footbridge, “this crossing is not over a mainline in the middle of nowhere. It is an incredibly well used pedestrian and cycle route.
“It is also an integral part of the new ‘Green Ring’ and its closure will sabotage a key link in this initiative which is supported by both the district and county councils.”
Gemma Duffy, route level crossing manager, said that while the closure is temporary, Network Rail hopes to make it permanent.
She explained: “The high number of incidents of misuse raised serious concerns, prompting its emergency closure.
“Trains travel on this section of line at speeds of up to 50mph and because of the track layout and curve of the line, the visibility of an approaching train by anyone using the crossing is limited.”
Network Rail staff monitoring the crossing for nine days earlier this month noted 248 ‘incidents’ including users wearing headphones or mobile phones, groups of youths loitering on the tracks and one young person sitting and lying down on the crossing.
Gemma said options are being examined to provide pedestrians with a safer alternative for walking over the railway.
Cllr Walkington said: “Clearly safety has to be paramount. But in some ways the fault is Network Rail’s. There are no warning bells or flashing lights.”
He said a publicity and education programme could be initiated to “highlight the dangers of people behaving stupidly”.
A county council spokesman said the authority had issued a temporary traffic regulation order to Network Rail allowing it to close the crossing for just one day, for the “removal and reinstallation of the foot crossing.
“However, it has been brought to our attention that they have not re-opened the crossing.
“[The council has asked] why the crossing remains closed and we are requesting it is re-opened, subject to an up-to-date risk assessment, until a new crossing bridge is in place.”