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'It's overkill' - Frustration over plans for alarm at railway crossing

PUBLISHED: 08:31 12 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:11 12 November 2019

Michelle Johns and Andy Purser next to the railway crossing outside their home in Church Lane, Tunstead. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Michelle Johns and Andy Purser next to the railway crossing outside their home in Church Lane, Tunstead. Picture: Stuart Anderson

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A couple who live by what must be one of Norfolk's quietest rail crossings have hit out at a Network Rail decision to install a traffic light and alarm system there.

A bird's-eye view of the home of Michelle Johns and Andy Purser in Church Lane, Tunstead. Picture: Supplied by Michelle JohnsA bird's-eye view of the home of Michelle Johns and Andy Purser in Church Lane, Tunstead. Picture: Supplied by Michelle Johns

Michelle Johns and Andy Purser said the alarm would sound for 90 seconds each time a train passed by their home, a former crossing keeper's cottage in Church Lane, Tunstead.

The couple, who have two young children, said they never would have bought the property five years ago if they knew the alarm - which they think will be audible indoors - would be installed.

Ms Johns said: "We live next door to a railway crossing and we understand there are engineering works, but this is different because the works don't need to be done.

"I've found it very difficult to sleep. It's the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing at night."

Michelle Johns and Andy Purser next to the railway crossing outside their home in Church Lane, Tunstead. Picture: Stuart AndersonMichelle Johns and Andy Purser next to the railway crossing outside their home in Church Lane, Tunstead. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Currently, when motorists or pedestrians approach the crossing, they have to use an installed phone to call a control room to check if no trains are coming and it is safe to cross.

They then have to open two gates to pass over the tracks. This system will remain in place after the installation of the lights and alarm at the end of the month.

But Mr Purser said the extra measures were unnecessary because there was so little traffic there - they sometimes went days without seeing a passing car.

"It seems like a bit of overkill," he said.

Network Rail engineering works, as seen from the home of Michelle Johns and Andy Purser in Church Lane, Tunstead. Picture: Supplied by Michelle JohnsNetwork Rail engineering works, as seen from the home of Michelle Johns and Andy Purser in Church Lane, Tunstead. Picture: Supplied by Michelle Johns

He said they had also discovered - despite a lack of signage - the crossing was not actually open to the public, and there was only one 'authorised user' who had permission to cross.

Mr Purser said he had contacted the Rail Ombudsman as well as a number of other bodies, but no-one had yet offered any help.

A Network Rail spokesman said the alarm and lights were being installed at the request of safety regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

He said: "We are committed to working with the residents in ensuring that the impact of this new equipment is kept to a minimum, while still ensuring the lights are an effective warning to any crossing user."

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