Work to speed up crossing ruled out

SAFETY measures mean Woodgate level crossing cannot operate any faster.

Network Rail says the site is among those around the country with the highest level of protection.

A spokesman said this was reflected in the CCTV and full barriers which were in operation to halt traffic along the A29.

He was responding to comments from the Villages Action Group that investment in the crossing would remove the need for a bypass and the 2,000-plus homes to help to pay for it.

“That level of protection is based on its risk assessment, which includes factors such as the level of traffic and trains that use it.

“Safety is our number one priority and the barriers are there to protect people,” he said.

“The length of time barriers are down for depends on a variety of factors, including the frequency of trains.

“Wherever possible, signallers will try and keep barrier downtime to a minimum, while keeping within safety standards, which are non-negotiable.

“We have closed more than 700 crossings in the past five years and we would favour any proposals that would help reduce risk to our network.”

But Mike Turner, the chairman of the Villages Action Group, said the crossing would have to stay open even if a bypass and bridge was built over the busy railway line.

“The Woodgate crossing cannot be closed even if a bypass is built.

“Network Rail would not achieve what they want from the building of a bypass. The crossing would have to stay open.

“There are other, less well-used crossings, such as Drayton, which could be closed,” he said.

The disruption caused to traffic heading to and from Bognor Regis by the crossing is seen by Arun District Council as hitting the town’s economic potential.

A survey showed the crossing could be shut for up to 34 minutes an hour at peak times.

Mr Turner said a bypass would permanently damage existing communities by cutting a path through them.

“It would create difficulty accessing the local shop, school and surgery for those to the south of the line, especially those without cars.”

The need for a bypass would also be reduced by the raft of improvement measures planned for roads in the area. He said these included the A27 improvements at Chichester and Lyminster and the Bognor relief road.

Mr Turner said faster trains from Bognor to places such as Horsham, Crawley, Worthing and Brighton, without the frequent need to change at Barnham, would also help to cut the number of road commuters and more frequent commuter buses would be another way to help to keep cars off the A29.

He said the hourly morning service from Westergate to Chichester was over-crowded.




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