Tunnel needed to ease station congestion

A RADICAL solution has been called for to tackle the “nightmare” of congestion around an Essex railway station. Residents in Lawford have grown increasingly annoyed with the traffic jams surrounding Manningtree station.

James Hore

A RADICAL solution has been called for to tackle the “nightmare” of congestion around an Essex railway station.

Residents in Lawford have grown increasingly annoyed with the traffic jams surrounding Manningtree station.

But now the local rail users' association has called for a tunnel to be built under the railway line in a bid to ease pressure from traffic, which often backs up when the level crossing gates are down.

Currently traffic can drive under the railway bridge, but only cars and small vans are able to get through, meaning that heavy goods vehicles have to go over the top.

However the crossing gates are often down because of the number of trains which use the mainline.

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Derek Monnery, vice chairman of the Manningtree Rail User's Association, said unless action is taken, the problem will only get worse.

He said: “It has become an increasing nightmare. It does not take much for the whole thing to seize up - particularly when the level crossing is down for most of the day.

“If the tunnel was to be widened, it would still only be suitable for light vans and cars.”

Mr Monnery said the area was also an accident black spot and a tunnel would help cut the number of crashes in the area.

“Yes, it is ambitious. I have just floated the idea and there seems to have been a positive reaction so far.

“People are saying, 'who will pay for it' which is a valid point because it is right on the Essex/Suffolk border so I don't think either council will be keen.”

Brian Rolfe, leader of Lawford Parish Council, which covers the station, said: “We support any initiative which would help ease the congestion.

“We are trying to persuade the county council to deepen and widen the existing bridge structure. It is particularly bad when the A12 is blocked - it gets seriously congested.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council's highways department said: “We have not received any suggestion from the rail users' association to build a tunnel under the railway line at Manningtree.

“But this project would be likely to cost many millions of pounds and I cannot see that the expense can be justified at this time as there is already a level crossing there.”

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