At last! Improvements set to reduce delays at notorious Oulton Broad North level crossing
- Credit: Nick Butcher
It is a notorious level crossing that causes gridlock and has frustrated motorists for years.
But it now seems the long wait for improvements at the crossing at Oulton Broad North railway station may soon finally be over.
The area has long been the scene of tailbacks as the barriers go down for trains as they arrive and leave from the station. It is even more frustrating for drivers as the only other route into nearby Lowestoft involves crossing the Bascule bridge – the site of equally long queues.
So there was great delight when Network Rail announced last year that it would be making changes to move a signal box 50 metres down the platform, meaning the barriers now don't need to be lowered until the train is ready to leave the station.
Network Rail said it had worked with rail service provider Greater Anglia to devise a new timetable to ensure the operator can keep to its commitment of trains reaching Norwich within 45 minutes.
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Waveney MP Peter Aldous said he chaired a meeting with the two organisations on Tuesday this week after it had been suggested the improvements might not come into fruition until next May. However it has been agreed the changes will be made this year and Network Rail yesterday released a statement saying motorists would see upgrades from Monday, November 28.
A spokesman for Greater Anglia said: 'There is no dispute that has delayed this work being carried out.'
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Mr Aldous welcomed the changes, saying: 'It is an important step – but not the full solution.
'It will make a difference but there are a wide range of other things we need to be doing to improve traffic flows.'
Jules Shorrock, chairman of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Lowestoft and Waveney, said: 'Local businesses and workers will be fist punching the air in delight at this news.
'Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Waveney and Lowestoft has long campaigned for this improvement in order to reduce congestion and improve travel into and around the town. Well done to all involved.'
Colin Law, leader of Waveney District Council, said: 'I am very pleased that we are now some way towards a solution to the issues that cause delays for local motorists.
'I would like to thank Network Rail for their efforts and I hope that the changes will now create much needed relief and a reduction to the build-up of traffic.'
Richard Schofield, Network Rail's route managing director for Anglia, said: 'We listened to the community who told us that they were unhappy with the current waiting times at this crossing.
'Together with the train operator we've found a solution that benefits motorists and doesn't increase journey times for passengers.
'We are committed to improving our level crossings as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan.'