Fears over Needham Market railway crossing to be aired

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- Credit: Archant

Residents are set to have the chance to keep up pressure on Network Rail to build an underpass at a dangerous rail crossing.

Network Rail is planning to hold a public meeting to discuss proposals which could see either a ramped footbridge or underpass built at Gipsy Lane crossing in Needham Market.

In December it backtracked on plans for a stepped footbridge to be erected at the crossing where a woman died in 2011. There were concerns older residents and disabled people would struggle to get across that type of crossing.

An underpass is the preferred community option and is favoured by Suffolk County Council but Network Rail said it would be expensive.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said: “Network Rail is committed to improving safety at level crossings and closing them is the surest way to do that. It is our intention to close Gipsy Lane level crossing and replace it with an alternative means of getting across the railway. 

“We are still considering two options for Gipsy Lane level crossing – a ramped footbridge or an underpass.

“As part of our ongoing discussions with the council, we are planning to have a further public meeting. As soon as the date and arrangements are finalised, we will share these.”

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A petition, signed by more than 1,000 people, had called for the stepped footbridge option to be discarded and an underpass built – a position supported by the town’s MP David Ruffley.

Julia Truelove, county councillor for Needham Market, said there was “absolutely no question” that the underpass had to be built.

Kevin Hunter, town clerk for the town council, said it would be the third public meeting on the crossing. “Clearly from discussions with county councillor Truelove, she is pushing for the public meeting to take place,” he said. “It will be an opportunity for the public to receive an update as much as anything and will be clearly an opportunity for them to reiterate their preference for the underpass.”