Rail company won’t chip in for relief road

Network Rail is not able to contribute with money towards the £20 million East-West link road scheme in Lincoln, the company told The Lincolnite.

The project wants to continue pedestrianising the lower area of the High Street in order to avoid people and cars getting stuck at the level crossing.

As reported on Wednesday, the Lincolnshire County Council is working to put in a planning application for the project by this spring.

If approved, phase one works of the project would only commence some time in 2013, if funding for the project is also found.

But also in 2013, Network Rail is expected to extend the time the barriers at the High Street level crossing are down, to accommodate more freight traffic.

Currently down around 20 minutes of every hour, the barriers would be down for up to 40 minutes per hour, creating further traffic disruptions.

“We are not funded to contribute to road schemes,” said Rachel Lowe, spokesperson for Network Rail.

“We are willing, as we have said all along, to examine changes to High Street level crossing as a result of the road scheme leading to pedestrianisation of High Street.

“With the proposed pedestrianisation of the High Street there are a number of options available to the authorities.

“Network Rail has offered support in identifying potential technical solutions and this offer has been accepted by Lincolnshire County Council,” Lowe added.

But the Lincolnshire County Council says the East-West link road is only a response to the expected increase in rail freight through the city.

“This is not a road scheme but a mitigation scheme,” Councillor Eddy Poll from the Lincolnshire County Council told the Lincolnshire Echo.

“They have told us the increase in down time of the barriers will start by December 2013,” added Councillor William Webb.

“There is some urgency to mitigate the situation and prevent a complete snarl up in the city centre before that time.”

Network Rail said it “would like to explore closure of the crossing with the local authorities,” with a bridge or underway built instead.

The cost of the bridge or underway is unknown, and it is not included in the £20 million cost of the East-West link road project.

The University of Lincoln also told The Lincolnite that it is looking at building its own secondary bridge due to the extended barrier closures.

The bridge would link the two parts of the Brayford campus, which are separated by rail lines and a level crossing on Brayford Wharf East.

The university is still debating the exact location of the bridge.