Network Rail seeks to close 30 crossings in Suffolk to speed up trains
PUBLISHED: 06:56 25 May 2016 | UPDATED: 08:17 25 May 2016
A total of 30 rail crossings in Suffolk could be closed in a bid to speed services on the main line to London and the cross-country route from Felixstowe to Ely and the midlands.
But no public road crossings are due to be closed – those earmarked for possible closure are footpaths or bridlepaths.
There are due to be three public consultation programmes next month at Ipswich, Stowmarket, and Bury St Edmunds where the closures will be discussed and alternatives outlined.
The list was drawn up by Network Rail after consultations over recent months – and the closures are seen as vital if rail services are to be speeded up to allow trains to achieve the aim of travelling from Norwich to London in 90 minutes.
There had been fears that some roads could be blocked off, and even some communities like Mellis could be cut in half – but those concerns have not materialised.
However there could be some concern at the closure of some public footpath and bridlepath crossings from countryside campaigners.
Richard Schofield, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “I’d encourage anyone interested to come along see our initial plans, ask our level crossings team questions and share any concerns or ideas with us.
“We know that public Rights of Way are an important part of country life in this region, and where possible, we will maintain this connectivity with the countryside, and in some cases will improve the Rights of Way network.
“Our plans to close level crossings propose small changes to how people cross the railway but the closures will help us reduce the risks that level crossings pose, improve safety and reliability of the railway for the future.”
Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill’s constituency includes many of the crossings, including those in the Stowmarket area and she has been leading talks with Network Rail.
She said: “Network Rail have identified 17 remote level crossing sites across my Bury St Edmunds constituency, which they believe should be consulted upon.
“Just last week, I met with representatives from Network Rail to discuss rail crossings within my constituency. I have been assured the crossings have been identified where road disruptions for motorists, can be avoided.
“Furthermore, in the interest of local people and as a public matter, all county councillors will be kept informed of the plans.”
The consultation sessions will be at:
St Edmundsbury C of E Aided Primary School, Saturday June 11, 11am-3pm.
Stowmarket Community Centre, Tuesday June 14, 3pm-8pm.
Burlington Baptist Church, Ipswich, Wednesday June 15, 2pm-7pm.
The results of the consultation will feed into agreed plans that will then be put forward under Transport & Works Act Orders early next year.
Closures, if agreed, will take place in 2018 and 2019.
Most of the closures will be in the Mid Suffolk area, with others in the Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds areas.
Those proposed for closure are in the following locations:
Weatherby footpath, Newmarket.
Higham Ground Frame footpath .
Cattishall bridlepath, Bury St Edmunds.
Barrels footpath, Thurston.
Grove Lane footpath, Thurston.
Haughley Green footpath.
Mutton Hall footpath, Elmswell.
Hawk End Lane footpath, Elmswell.
Lords No 29 footpath, Elmswell.
Leggetts footpath, Haughley.
Gooderhams footpath, Bacton.
Fords Green footpath, Bacton.
Payne’s footpath, Gislingham.
Cow Pasture Lane footpath, Mellis.
Rectory Road footpath, Mellis.
Beecroft Road footpath, Mellis.
Abbotts footpath, Mellis,
Broomfield footpath, Great Blakenham
Stacpool footpath, Baylham
Brantham Bridge footpath.
Pannington Hall footpath, Wherstead.
Island footpath, Bentley.
Buxton Wood footpath, Bentley.
Sea Wall footpath, Cattawade.
Westerfield footpath – part of Fonnereau Way.