Answers demanded from Network Rail over persistent level crossing closures in Spalding

Patience with faults on the upgraded railway line through Spalding has run out, with answers being demanded from Network Rail.

It comes after a second lengthy systems failure in the space of four days caused Mill Green level crossing barriers to remain down for four hours.
The ensuing traffic congestion around the town on Friday angered road users and prompted concerns over emergency vehicles being hampered.

South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter said: “The continuing failure of Network Rail’s safety equipment is a serious cause of concern.
“I have now asked the chief executive [of the council] to write to their chief executive to get reassurance that they are taking this safety failure seriously and that they have a plan to remedy the situation and that they will share this with us so that we can reassure the public.”

A Network Rail spokesman said the problem on Friday – between 3.30pm and 7.30pm – was that the red lights would not extinguish properly so the barriers had to remain down until it was fixed.
He apologised for any inconvenience, adding: “We are working to ensure that whatever caused this to happen doesn’t happen again.”

As we reported last week, during a two-hour closure on May 18 a frustrated cyclist took a risk to cross and trespassed on the line while the barriers were down.

Issues with barriers in Spalding and safety measures elsewhere have beset the GNGE line since a £280million upgrade last October.

Spalding district councillor Gary Taylor rounded on Network Rail.
“When they made a presentation to Spalding Town Forum [about the upgrade] last year, they sold us the idea that it was almost faultless. We can accept the odd issue but not twice in one week. It was just a nightmare on Friday and with ambulances and fire engines it could be a life and death situation.”
He added: “They are a successful company which makes many millions of pounds and it feels like Spalding is a poor relation.”

Meanwhile, county and district councillor Angela Newton says the issues add weight to the argument for a pedestrian and cyclist footbridge to be reinstated at Winsover Road level crossing.
She said: “I don’t accept that there isn’t room, particularly now the signal box has gone.”

She also beiieves lengthy tailbacks are adversely affecting the town’s economy.
“People tell me it’s quicker for them to drive to Bourne and do their shop at Tesco than to queue down Winsover Road from Carrington Road.
“I don’t want to hear that people are spending their money elsewhere.”

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