Downham Market’s MP slams Network Rail over railway crossing saga

A Norfolk MP has demanded Network Rail gets 'back on track' over the future of a town's pedestrian railway crossing.

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has written a letter to the organisation's chief executive David Higgins expressing her concerns about the 'absence' of a safe and suitable crossing at Downham Market train station.

Around 14 people ignore the red lights at the current barrow crossing at the station and put their lives at risk every day.

Some people have also been caught on CCTV recently narrowly avoiding being hit by a train.

The Conservative MP said: 'Priority needs to be finding a safe and suitable crossing at the station.

'Current proposals have been very short on solutions and extremely costly in their approach.

'This is not acceptable and Network Rail needs to get back on track fast.'

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Network Rail had wanted to build a footbridge at the station but failed to get planning permission.

The organisation is now exploring the option of closing the current site and diverting people to the nearby road crossing - which has angered Ms Truss.

She continued: 'Network Rail has failed to engage properly with the local community and work together to develop a viable solution.

'Moving the crossing to the road is unpopular with the town council and local residents as this would put pedestrians in close proximity to moving traffic.

'I have been told by representatives of Network Rail that moving the crossing to the road merely reduced the risk to pedestrians from accidents involving trains, taking no account of the risk from traffic.

'In effect, Network Rail proposes not to reduce the risk as such but merely to shift the risk of the responsibility of the local highways authority.'

She added: 'I feel that there is an attitude of box-ticking and reluctance to demonstrate innovation or compromise in overcoming problems is unacceptable.

'This is a matter of urgency as I do not want people using this station to have to wait any longer for a safe option.'

Ms Truss also told Mr Higgins she would like to see her preferred option of wicket gates 'seriously considered' and 'thought through'.

Chris Curtis, route general manager at Network Rail, told councillors at a meeting earlier this month that the barrow crossing could close if there is an accident or people continue to abuse it.

Network Rail has also said if it closes the barrow crossing and divert people to the road crossing, various works would take place to improve the area.

These would include widening the road and raising the kerb to stop cars mounting the kerb.