Network Rail says Brandon level crossing not marked for closure

A train flashes past the new barriers at the level crossing on Bridge Street in Brandon. Photograph

A train flashes past the new barriers at the level crossing on Bridge Street in Brandon. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

A troublesome town centre level crossing is not among those which Network Rail is planning to close in the coming years.

The crossing in High Street, Brandon had a new sensor system fitted in 2012 and has since broken down almost 100 times, leaving motorists stranded on either side of its barriers.

Fears have been voiced in the past that the level crossing could be shut, effectively turning the main road through the town into a cul-de-sac.

However, Network Rail has confirmed it is not among 30 crossings in Suffolk earmarked for closure or modification.

Reg Silvester, Suffolk County councillor for Brandon, said he had not expected the crossing to be closed as the road it bisects is a 'main artery' through the town.

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However, he believes a railway bridge would be the 'final answer' to the town's woes.

'I have pointed out that there is enough room for a bridge. I know it is a lot of money but it would be a long term solution.

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'The current system must be costing them a fortune, and it is certainly costing the town and businesses in the area money when it fails,' he said.

In April Network Rail's area director said alterations would be made to the sensitivity of the LIDAR system, which controls the barriers at Brandon's crossing, by the end of 2016.

Brandon town councillors have also resolved to write to constituency MPs Matthew Hancock and Elizabeth Truss and transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin about the crossing.

Town councillor Peter Ridgwell said it was up to Network Rail to sort out the problem, which he believes is causing particular problems for those who live on the Norfolk side of the barrier.

'They say they'll do something to minimise the amount of faults, but that is not the answer. The answer is to make sure it works every time.

'It's not just that it doesn't work for five minutes, it can cause delays for seven or eight hours,' he said.

Mr Silvester, also a town and district councillor for Brandon, said the barriers are already down for 20 minutes out of every hour between 7am and 7pm, with plans by Network Rail to increase the number of services running through the crossing.

'It is an antiquated system for a main road,' he added.

Consultations are taking place in Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Ipswich to decide whether 30 earmarked crossings in Suffolk should be modified or shut.

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