New crossing gates in operation

THE replacements for Frinton's famous wooden level-crossing gates swung into action yesterday as the first trains passed through the resort's new electric barriers.

Roddy Ashworth

THE replacements for Frinton's famous wooden level-crossing gates swung into action yesterday as the first trains passed through the resort's new electric barriers.

Despite fierce opposition from locals, the traditional, manually-controlled wooden gates - such an icon of the town that they feature in its coat of arms - have been ripped up and replaced with a modern, remote-controlled system.

But locals are still concerned that the new barriers, which are overseen by CCTV and operated from Colchester, could cause problems on the edge of the town's inner road network.


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Yesterday, David Foster, chairman of the Frinton Gates Preservation Society, said he believed the complex mechanical system recently installed was prone to fault and could easily blow its electrical relays.

The result, he warned, could see Frintonians locked in the town, stranded between the North Sea and the railway.

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He also said he felt that Network rail had not listened to local people - despite a lengthy consultation period - and had left the town “with a train set rather than a proper community railway”.

Mr Foster added: “There were three key points. The first was safety. The second was history. And the third was convenience.

“If the railway authorities had come up with a better system than what we already had then there wouldn't have been a problem.

“But we established that what they proposed was inappropriate because of the volume of traffic and the volume of people.

“However, all our views were pushed to one side. We have now got a donkey instead of a racehorse.

“We feel they are a bigger risk now, and that we have been stonewalled.”

The wooden gates removed by Network Rail are currently in storage although they are due to be presented to a history group in the town and displayed in the station's car park.

There they will be shown alongside other railway memorabilia, such as examples of Victorian ironwork that used to stand at Liverpool Street Station before it was rebuilt more than a decade ago.

A spokesman for Network Rail said yesterday: “The new barriers were tested on Sunday and they are working fine. There have been no incidents and everything is working well.

“They are extremely simple and safe to use - they are the most common type of crossing used on the British railway network.”

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