MP attacks Network Rail level crossing plans

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney criticised Network Rail’s plans to lower the barriers at level crossings in the city for up to 40 minutes every hour. In his Maiden Speech in the House of Commons on July 12, McCartney also said “Lincoln has poor transport links which have worsened over recent years.”

City held to ransom

“I am not aware of any other cities in our country who are being held to ransom by Network Rail, who are currently threatening the city with the closure of this level crossing for up to 40 minutes in the hour throughout the day to enable freight trains, which are of no benefit to Lincoln, to pass through,” read McCartney’s speech.

For the wider benefit ?

Network Rail gave little details as to what their exact plans for the city’s level crossings are. “We are at an early stage with the Joint Line upgrade and do not yet know the detail of train paths or the impact they will have on the level crossing,” said a company spokesperson.

The Joint Line upgrade is part of Network Rail’s plans to improve the rail freight network in the country, including the route between Peterborough and Doncaster. The volume of rail freight has increased by 50% since 1995, and demand is expected to grow by a further 30% in the next decade.

“We have repeatedly expressed our commitment to address the level crossing situation for pedestrians should the barrier down time significantly increase as a result of the upgrade and remain fully committed to this,” the spokesperson added, without touching on the effect of prolonged barrier closures would have on traffic.

McCartney said he will be meeting Network Rail in the coming weeks “to put further pressure on them to resolve this issue to the satisfaction of people living, working and visiting the city.”

Alternative roads to relieve traffic

To alleviate potential traffic jams caused by prolonged level crossing closure, the East-West link road is currently proposed to relief traffic throughout Lincoln, as well as wider plans to add the eastern leg to Lincoln’s bypass, between the A158 Wragby Road roundabout and the A15 Sleaford Road.

Work for both proposals, now in consultations, would start in 2013 at the earliest, at a cost up to £150 million. The East-West link road would be finalised in a year.

Photo: Adam Rhodes