Rail bosses under fire for gates plan

RAILWAY bosses came under from angry residents at a public meeting about proposed changes to a town's famous gates.The gates to the level crossing at Frinton, the main route in and out of the town, are set for a facelift as part of an infrastructure renewal project along the railway line.

RAILWAY bosses came under from angry residents at a public meeting about proposed changes to a town's famous gates.

The gates to the level crossing at Frinton, the main route in and out of the town, are set for a facelift as part of an infrastructure renewal project along the railway line.

Network Rail wants to replace the manually-operated gates with automatic electric barriers with signs, flashing lights and alarms, controlled remotely from Colchester.

But townsfolk, who regard the gates as an important symbol of the genteel resort, are fiercely opposing the plans.


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They had their chance to put their opinions to Network Rail representatives on Saturday, at a meeting organised by the Frinton Residents Association.

Len Brooks, a member of the association and resident for 60 years, received a round of applause when he told the two representatives from the rail company: “Everyone in this room thinks you're wrong.”

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After the meeting, he said the forum had given members of the association and other concerned locals a chance to find out exactly what the plans are.

“I'm not sure about the amount of research they have done in terms of the usage of the gates and the effect on the children,” he said.

“We have three schools here and also got the children who go to school in Colchester and Ipswich who go by bus and get picked up from outside the gates.

“If they see the bus when the gates are closing, they may try to take a chance.”

Garry England, senior manager for the Colchester-to-Clacton line renewal project, fielded questions from many residents, regarding the safety record of the new type of gate, and questioning the effect the changes would have on the community.

He said: “Although the train service is very limited, it is the road usage that has driven these changes. “We know from our research that even at quiet times of the year traffic is very busy, and at peak times there is a significant volume of traffic.”

Sean Tarpey, a signalling project engineer, was also on hand to answer the technical questions, including the matter of the timing of the gates and CCTV.

The new system, set to be introduced by 2009, would see the crossing being controlled remotely from Colchester's signal box, through the use of communication technology and CCTV.

But residents voiced their concerns about the human error factor involved and raised fears the crossing would not be manned, as it presently is, under the system.

The plans would also see the movement of a nearby mini-roundabout and provisionally aim to include the old gates in some form of nearby display.

Chairman of the residents; association, Brian McLellan, said the group would continue to oppose the plan, and would launch a petition to increase awareness and support for their campaign.

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