Misuse at Downham Market train station crossing may force closure

A pedestrian railway crossing in West Norfolk is set to shut for good as people continue to abuse the site every day, it has emerged.

Network Rail has become increasingly concerned about the amount of people who ignore the red lights at the barrow crossing at Downham Market railway station and put their lives at risk.

The organisation wants to put a safer crossing in place and has been exploring the option of closing the current site and diverting people to the nearby road crossing.

Network Rail representatives met with South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, town, borough and county councillors to discuss the on-going issue.

At the meeting it was revealed an average of 14 people misuse the crossing every day, with people caught on CCTV narrowly avoiding being hit by a train.

Neil Roberts, who spoke at the meeting, has been tasked by Network Rail to find the safest option for people to cross the railway lines.

He said: 'Currently there is no way to restrain people at the station so people are abusing the crossing every day. These people are putting themselves at risk and we have to do something soon because the level of misuse is totally unacceptable.'

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Mr Roberts said if Network Rail decided to close the barrow crossing and divert people to the road crossing, various works would take place to improve the area.

He continued: 'We would widen the road and put protection in place to make sure people are not pushed on to the road. We will also raise the kerb to stop cars mounting the kerb.'

Chris Curtis, route general manager at Network Rail, also spoke at the meeting about his concerns relating to people who dice with death at the crossing on a daily basis.

He said: 'We could close the crossing tonight or at any time if there was an accident. It is only a matter of time before we have an accident there, from the CCTV footage and the risk assessment I have seen.

'I am passionate we have to do the right thing and we have to stop the abuse at this crossing. If this means closing it, then so be it.'

However, Downham's town, borough and county councillors urged Network Rail not to close the current crossing and asked for locking gates to be installed on the station platforms instead.

Councillor Kathy Mellish said: 'I don't want to see people pushed on to the road because it is very busy.

'Pushing people on a road next to traffic is not the best option and, in my opinion, the barrow crossing is the best place to cross.'

The town's MP Elizabeth Truss added: 'It appears that Network Rail wants to go for the easiest option and not what is suitable here. They are ignoring what local people are saying.

'I just feel we are being pushed into accepting the closure of the barrow crossing and that there has not been an open discussion. I believe there has been a real lack of innovation as to how this is being approached.'