Pedestrian crossings to be shut in bid to speed Suffolk trains

Network Rail pedestrian crossing

Network Rail is set to close nine pedestrian crossings early in 2021. - Credit: RALPH HODGSON

Network Rail is set to close or modify nine pedestrian crossings  in Suffolk in a bid to speed up trains on the main line to London and improve safety.

After the crossings are shut trains will be able to travel across them faster - and will not have to sound warnings. That should eventually allow some timetables to be speeded up.

The news comes a week after Network Rail was told it could not close a further 13 pedestrian and bridleway crossings that it had hoped to shut as part of the programme to speed up rail travel.

In 2017, Network Rail applied for a Transport and Works Act Order to obtain the powers to close or modify 22 level crossings in Suffolk. The Secretary of State for Transport has now granted Network Rail the powers to close or modify nine of them.

Three crossings at Bacton, Old Newton and Mellis on the Great Eastern Main Line between Stowmarket and Diss will be shut and are likely to close as soon as possible. They are all pedestrian crossings - they do not carry public roads. There are alternative routes for footpaths which will have new signs.

Cowpasture Lane in Mellis is being legally downgraded from a Byway open to all traffic to a Public Bridleway. Mounting blocks will be provided to assist horse riders.

A further five crossings - two each in Gislingham and Elmswell and one at Bentley near Ipswich - can also be closed or modified and detailed plans will be drawn up early in the new year after consultations with landowners and the county council.

Network Rail was disappointed it was blocked from changing the 13 other crossings. Ellie Burrows, route director for Anglia, said: “While we are disappointed to only receive the powers to close or modify nine level crossings, improving safety on the railway continues to be my top priority.

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"As we begin work on these nine crossings, we will continue to focus on how we can further reduce the risk at level crossings across the network.

“This has been a long process and so I want to thank everyone that got involved from residents, crossing users, local businesses, politicians and the media, as together we will make the railway safer for everyone in Suffolk.”