Committee of residents angry over proposals to close level crossings to hold public meeting

An Abellio Greater Anglia train

An Abellio Greater Anglia train - Credit: Archant

A group of angry Suffolk residents have hit out at proposals to close level crossings in rural areas of the county, and formed an action group to address the issue.

The proposed closures as part of the ‘Norwich in 90’ scheme aim to reduce the time it takes to get between London Liverpool Street and Norwich to 90 minutes.

But the plans mean that level crossing closures at Stowmarket Station, Stowmarket Regent Street, Mellis, Haughley, Needham Market Town, Bacton, Finningham, Gislingham and Old Newton, as well as Dagworth, Gipping and 11 others to be confirmed, may leave some residents in these areas cut off.

Andrew Stringer, Suffolk county councillor for Upper Gipping, said: “There have been some consultations at parish level and obviously it’s quite a delicate subject.

“Of course we would like to improve journey times, but also we would like to promote people using sustainable transport. Closing crossings could cut off communities and not everyone can access the crossings.”

“A number of communities want underpasses, but they have been told they cannot have that.”

The concerned residents have claimed that the closures will not improve journey times as they believe trains do not currently slow down when going through level crossings.

Most Read

However, it is thought that closing the crossings could allow trains a greater continuous speed across the whole route, rather than being restricted by the number of crossings currently in place.

The committee is now holding a public meeting at 6pm on Friday, January 16 at Stowmarket Community Hub, Crown Street to encourage residents to have their say.

A spokesperson from Network Rail said: “As part of our ongoing work to improve safety and reduce risk to passengers and the wider public, we have pledged to close a further 500 level crossings across the country by 2019.

“We understand the concerns that some members of the public may have with regard to the closure of a crossing, however each crossing is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

“Before a proposal for closure is put forward, extensive consultation is undertaken with local residents, and a number of assessments, including those looking at accessability and alternate options for crossing the railway, are carried out.”

The Department for Transport and Network Rail are currently running two seperate public consultations, closing on February 3 and March 16 respectively.