End of the line in three-year battle as Newark and Sherwood district councillors question Network Rail
Misery resulting from faulty level crossings could be coming to an end after a district and county councillor told Network Rail enough was enough.
Sue Saddington and colleague Roger Jackson, who also has a seat on both authorities, have been fighting a three-year battle to ease gridlock in Newark and problems for the villages along the Lincoln to Nottingham line they represent of Staythorpe, Rolleston, Fiskerton, Bleasby, Thurgarton and Lowdham.
It is three years since the crossings in those communities were automated, which was supposed to bring a swifter operation to the line and reduce the time people spent waiting for barriers to go up and down.
However, despite various attempts to fix issues resulting from the automation, which have included barriers staying down or remaining upright while warning lights heralding the approach of trains, have continued.
“They said it would be wonderful — so much safer and quicker. It has been anything but,” said Mrs Saddington.
“I’ve tried for ages to get it resolved and it reached the point that I told them enough was enough — this needs sorting.”
She said when the Castle Station crossing wasn’t working properly, Newark was gridlocked and lives were at risk if ambulances and fire engines got trapped.
“The town relies on trade, particularly at the moment, yet the town is being strangled by a level crossing that is going wrong,” she said: “People are sitting there for an awful long time and with regards to ambulances and fire engines, that could be life and death. I have told Network Rail that and they have accepted it.”
She said the problem was just as bad for the villages along the line.
“My understanding is that cars are zipping across because the lights have been flashing for so long yet the barriers haven’t gone down. We are going to have someone killed — it’s a wonder we haven’t,” she said.
“I have met with them and I said I want each crossing inspected and a report into each with me within a fortnight.
“People have lost faith in Network rail and they need to do whatever they can to get it back.”
Vinny Briggs, route level crossing manager for Network Rail, said: “We are aware of the impact that level crossing barrier downtime has for people in Newark and the surrounding villages, and continue to do what we can to minimise this.
“Since a major resignalling project was completed in 2016, we have carried out a series of reliability improvements at level crossings between Nottingham and Newark Castle.
“These have included replacing equipment, increasing the frequency of our inspections and reducing the time which it takes for our teams to respond to issues.
“The level crossing equipment between Newark Castle and Nottingham is already to the highest specification, but we are continually looking to make improvements to reliability.
“We have upcoming work planned to upgrade the level crossings on the line between Newark Castle and Lincoln.”