Network Rail: No plans to close Brayford level crossing (for now)

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Network Rail and Lincolnshire County Council have said that no proposals have been put forward to close the Brayford Wharf East level crossing in Lincoln.

Operators and council officials say that works to build a footbridge over the crossing have been delayed considerably, but there are no changes proposed to the plans currently.

The new Brayford level crossing bridge designs from Network Rail, by Stem Architects

The new Brayford level crossing bridge designs from Network Rail, by Stem Architects

Work to build a pedestrian bridge over the Brayford level crossing was approved by the City of Lincoln Council in March 2013.

Originally, the project was expected to reach completion by May 2014. The works have however been delayed a number of times after unmapped utilities were discovered.

Network Rail now say that work to divert the services underneath the ground will start in March 2015 before any building works begin — two years after the plan was originally approved.

Six weeks of roadworks began in July to the Brayford Wharf East and Wigford Way junction in order to make way for the footbridge.

On completion the roadworks also outlined a new one-way system over the Brayford level crossing once both bridges are built over the level crossings.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We are not planning to close the [Brayford Wharf East] crossing. We have not put forward any such proposals.

“A full closure of the level crossing at Brayford Wharf has always been our preference, but we work very closely with the local councils and other stakeholders in Lincoln, and we understand this is not an option local people want to pursue.

“It is still our intention to start service diversion work in March 2015, with the footbridge build starting shortly after.”

Between October 3 and November 24 this year there were 46 incidents of deliberate misuse at the Brayford crossing, Network Rail said.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) is working with the two to conduct risk assessments of the crossing plans.

An ORR spokesperson said: “ORR works to ensure the rail industry follows safety laws and guidance, so that the risk of harm to members of the public and those travelling along the railways is minimised.

“We do not propose which level crossings should be upgraded or closed.”

Proposals to improve safety at the crossing, change the road layout and install the footbridge have been jointly developed by Network Rail and Lincolnshire County Council.

Alan Aistrup, Special Projects Manager at Lincolnshire County Council said: “We’ve been in discussions with Network Rail over a number of years regarding the level crossings on the High Street and Brayford Wharf East, and taking a range of factors into account, we agreed that the closure of these level crossings would be of significant detriment to the city in terms of its economy, environment and transport connections.

“Subsequently Network Rail have obtained planning consent for footbridges at both locations, with the crossings remaining open for reduced levels of traffic. The High Street works are due to start in the New Year, and work continues on the design of the Brayford Wharf Bridge, which is planned for delivery during 2015/16.”

Councillor Richard Davies, Executive Councillor for Highways and Transport, added: “I’m delighted that Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation have clarified their position regarding the Brayford Wharf East Level crossing.”

The City of Lincoln Council is working alongside Network Rail and other stakeholders to oversee the works at both the Brayford Wharf East crossing and the High Street Crossing.

City Council Leader Councillor Ric Metcalfe said: “The city council has never supported the permanent closure of the Brayford Wharf East level crossing, as doing so would completely sever the city.

“Our recent dealings with Network Rail have focused on the design of the footbridge and we have been given no indication that they are considering a permanent closure of the level crossing. If this suggestion is made we will strongly oppose it.

“We will continue to work with Network Rail and other stakeholders to ensure the city is provided with two footbridges across the railway and to address any issues which arise from this work. However, at no time will this include us agreeing to a complete closing of the level crossing.”