ANGRY Stafford residents are facing a stand-off over a “dangerous” railway crossing which is still closed months after being ordered to re-open.
Controversy is raging over the Gravel Lane foot crossing at Moss Pit as Network Rail is still determined to shut it despite being ordered to open it in December.
It follows a number of safety concerns and calls to re-route the footpath to the School Lane exit. This is despite Network Rail’s own report of all 6,100 railway crossings around the country, giving Gravel Lane the lowest risk rating.
Residents, who formed the Save Gravel Lane Crossing campaign, are outraged as the crossing, which they say was always well used, has now been closed for almost two years.
Sara Hook, from the Save Gravel Lane Crossing campaign, said: “It is frustrating.
“It appears the council is in the process of going back on its decision. We had an email from them saying they were in discussions with Network Rail about it. On pressing them they emailed back with a direct refusal to comment further on what was being discussed.
“Network Rail has written to me to say that they acknowledge they are past the closure order date and that they have been having discussions with the council about going back to the School Lane diversion.”
When asked why the crossing had failed to re-open a spokesman for Network Rail told the Newsletter: "Our ambition remains to permanently close this crossing as part of our commitment to improve safety on the railway. Discussions are ongoing with Staffordshire County Council and we will continue to liaise with them to find a suitable solution."
In December the county council’s Countryside and Rights of Way Panel committee considered all the relative dangers and concluded the crossing should be re-opened.
But members also recommended to Network Rail that there should be automatic warning lights when a train was approaching to give people ample time to cross. They also asked Network Rail to reconsider the prospect of building a bridge over the railway.
But now Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet support member for transport Simon Tagg says: “The safety of road users and pedestrians is the absolute priority and there are concerns that the crossing at Gravel Lane presents a risk to those who may use it. We are therefore in discussions with Network Rail about the crossing and would like to assure people that we are looking to find a safe solution to this as soon as possible.”