How heavily-used are crossings on rail routes in Suffolk and Essex?
14:50 17 February 2017
With attempts to raise the speed on rail lines in East Anglia, Network Rail is looking at closing some little-used crossings in a bid to improve safety.
But how much are crossings used? And how many are there for the state-owned infrastructure company to worry about?
Within 30 miles of Ipswich station – going a few miles beyond Bury St Edmunds’ station, well into Norfolk on the main line, south to Witham and beyond Halesworth on the East Suffolk line – there are 256 crossings.
These range from busy roads to infrequently used footpaths.
The busiest crossings so far as road use is concerned are on the East Suffolk line. The busiest of all is the A146 crossing on the Beccles by-pass which is used by an average of 15,849 vehicles a day.
The A12 crossing at Darsham station is used by an average of 12,204 vehicles a day and the Melton station crossing is used by an average of 9,561 vehicles a day.
The East Suffolk line carries an average of 35 trains a day. Both Melton and Darsham crossings are next to stations so trains are either slowing up or just starting as they use them – and at Beccles by-pass there is a speed limit of 25mph for trains.
At the other end of the scale several pedestrian crossings are recorded as having “infrequent use” – they are used less than once a day on average – while others have very low usage.
Falstaff crossing at Bentley has recently been improved – even though it is only used on average by two pedestrians a day.
A crossing at Levington Heath between Trimley and Ipswich also has “infrequent use” while the Broomhaughton crossing at Wherstead just outside Ipswich is used by an average of two pedestrians a day.
A spokesman for Network Rail said the company had a duty to maintain crossings safely if they were on public rights of way – and it took some time to close public rights of way.
The high number of crossings on the East Suffolk line is one of the reasons it has a speed limit of 55mph for most of its length – even though it was built as a main line.
Former county council transport spokesman Graham Newman, who uses the Felixstowe line often, said: “There are a large number of pedestrian crossings that have to be maintained, but any attempt to close them tends to lead to protests from local people who say they are important.”