Transport Secretary in House of Commons pledge over Downham Market level crossing

Transport Secretary Justine Greening has said she will 'make sure' South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss meets Network Rail's chief executive to discuss the Downham Market level crossing saga.

The Conservative MP is 'extremely disappointed' the works at the crossing, on Station Road, have not been fully presented to town, borough and councillors by Network Rail.

It comes after the organisation started work at the crossing last week which will see the barriers moved further apart and the footpath and road made wider.

Speaking during transport questions in the House of Commons, Ms Truss said: 'Last summer Network Rail closed the barrow crossing at Downham Market station and said they would consult with local residents and councillors about the new crossing.

'A few weeks ago I hear that a new crossing is to be built by July this year with no consultation of councillors and residents.

'Could the Secretary of State look into this and could she secure a meeting with David Higgins [Network Rail's chief executive], for me and local councillors, so that Network Rail can be held to account.'

In response, the Transport Secretary said: 'I will absolutely follow up the issues that she raises and I know that Network Rail has been very keen to do what they can to improve level crossing safety. 'But I recognise the concerns that she has raised today and we will get them followed up and we will make sure that a meeting happens.'

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Speaking afterwards, Ms Truss added: 'The ongoing lack of consultation by Network Rail is not acceptable. I am very pleased that the Secretary of State will ensure there is a proper meeting to discuss this.

'This situation has been going on for far too long and Network Rail needs to be held to account.'

The works at the level crossing will be completed by the end of the summer.

The first stage, which started last Thursday, will see the installation of a shortened walking route from the platforms and will consist of a ramp, footpath, fencing and handrail. These works are expected to be completed by the end of April.

The second stage will see the widening of the existing highway pavement and improved road markings, which is forecast for completion by early July.

In a letter to Ms Truss, Patrick Butcher, Network Rail's group finance director, has said: 'We have been developing the scheme in partnership with First Capital Connect and will shortly be updating users of the station via a poster campaign.

'The programme for these works has only recently been confirmed and we will be updating stakeholders, including local councillors, shortly.

'We are also in discussion with the local authority in respect of road closures required to complete the scheme and will, of course, aim to minimise the impact to users of the crossing.'

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