A Leicestershire level crossing, closed to the public in summer 2015 due to safety concerns, is to be replaced by a new footbridge.
The Little Bowden foot crossing, which sees around 200 trains pass through it each day, was closed in August 2015 following a safety assessment which determined the amount of time people were asked to stand at the red light varied too much for it to be safe. Train movements in the area meant that on some occasions the red light would be triggered by an approaching train, which in turn would result in variations in the crossing’s warning system.
Although the crossing’s equipment was operating exactly as it should, Network Rail felt that the level crossing’s warning times varied too much for regular users. Those using the crossing on a constant basis could grow to distrust the warnings and decide to cross when it was unsafe to do so, potentially resulting in injury.
Network Rail is currently applying for planning permission to build the replacement bridge at Little Bowden. Leicestershire County Council is currently in the process of discussing the designs, with the new footbridge being eyed for a completion date within the next 12 months.
Area Director for Network Rail, Gary Walsh, said:
“The track and signalling layout at Little Bowden is complex and with increased train movements in the area, the risk that someone would grow to distrust the crossing became too great.”
The Little Bowden crossing isn’t the first crossing to be closed by Network Rail. Since 2010, Network Rail has closed 987 level crossings. It has also carried out numerous improvements at existing level crossings, including the installation of brighter LED lights; the installation of red light safety cameras; the installation of audible warnings; and the introduction of BTP-operated mobile safety vehicles with number plate recognition camera technology.
In addition, 81 level crossings are currently in the process of being fitted with power operated gates.
“Safety is our priority and we will close level crossings wherever an opportunity such as the one at Little Bowden presents itself. The crossing will remain closed while we work through a fast-tracked proposal for a new bridge and I would like to thank the community in the area for their patience and understanding since it closed last summer.”
For further information or updates on the Little Bowden project, please visit: www.networkrail.co.uk.