Lincoln MP Karl McCartney debated with Network Rail over plans to keep the level crossing barriers in the city down for up to 40 minutes every hour. The discussion took place live on BBC Radio 2 on Thursday, July 22, during Jeremy Vine’s show.
Vine picked up on McCartney’s Maiden Speech in Parliament, when he said Lincoln is “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.”
Speaking on behalf of Network Rail, PJ Taylor said the company dislikes level crossings, and has a program of closing them. He said Network Rail is working with the City of Lincoln Council and the road authorities to come up with a solution, such as a bridge or an under-passing.
Network Rail refuted the speculation around its plans to increase the time barriers are down at the city’s level crossing, saying 40 minutes is “not a figure we recognise”. Through the Railway Act, Network Rail have the right to close the level crossing for up to 59 minutes every hour.
Taylor said the company is looking into bringing more freight through the city, despite McCartney’s claims that they are of no benefit to Lincoln. Freight trains benefit the country’s economy as a whole, Taylor claimed.
McCartney said more freight trains coming through the city would have a negative impact on Lincoln, and pointed to proposed plans for a relief East-West link road which would alleviate only some of the traffic problems created by the level crossings.
Network Rail and Karl McCartney are scheduled to meet again next week, to further discuss this issue and come up with a solution.