Work to improve Downham Market railway crossing to start next month

Network Rail has confirmed work to revamp a pedestrian railway crossing in West Norfolk will start next month.

The organisation wants to improve the crossing, on Station Road, in Downham Market, by moving the barriers further apart and making the footpath and road wider.

The improvement plans were announced shortly after closing the barrow crossing at the town's train station last May after concerns were raised about the number of people who ignored the red lights and put their lives at risk.

A Network Rail spokesman confirmed the works will be completed by the end of the summer and work to build the new shortened walkway starts on Thursday, April 12.

The spokesman said: 'The improvements we are making at Downham Market level crossing in the coming weeks will boost safety, which we are confident people will welcome.

'We are widening the footpath over the crossing as well as creating a shortened walkway to make it easier for people to get from one side of the station to the other.

'We've had long standing discussions with the relevant authorities as projects such as these can only be delivered with their cooperation and assistance and we will continue to work with them.'

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South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said she is 'extremely disappointed' the detailed programme of works has not been fully presented to town, borough and councillors.

The Conservative MP, along with town, borough and county councillors, met Network Rail representatives last June to discuss the issue.

She said: 'Network Rail has again failed to engage with the residents of Downham Market on plans for the crossing.

'I know that rail users will be pleased to see that some progress is being made but this situation is far from satisfactory.

'I have repeatedly called on Network Rail to be more publicly accountable and yet again the lack of consultation with the locally elected representatives fails to take place.

'I have raised this with the chief executive of Network Rail David Higgins. I also want to ensure that proper consideration is given to the timings of any closures, if this is required.'

She added: 'The region anticipates a boost from the London 2012 Olympics and I want to ensure the rail infrastructure remains open for business.'

In 2009, Network Rail had submitted plans for a footbridge between the platforms but that application was later withdrawn after consultation with English Heritage and the Railway Heritage Trust. A revised plan was rejected by West Norfolk council in April 2010.

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