A large public inquiry commenced in Essex on 25 September, to decide whether sixty level crossings, used mainly by pedestrians, should be closed.
Network Rail wants these crossings, which stretch across East Anglia, closed for a variety of reasons: to improve safety, to enable trains to go faster, or to save on maintenance costs.
Over the coming weeks, Ramblers will be opposing around thirty closures, represented by barrister Merrow Golden. Essex volunteers and an expert witness have submitted Proofs of Evidence around better pedestrian provision which they will be sharing at the Inquiry. Under the Transport and Works Act 1992, the inquiry Inspector must be satisfied that the alternative routes are “suitable and convenient” replacements.
The inquiry will move from Chelmsford to Basildon to Stansted and then Colchester, before concluding back in Chelmsford.
Tompion Platt, Ramblers director of advocacy & engagement, said: “Some of these proposals are fair and provide convenient diversions to bridges and other crossing points. However, the alternative routes provided for half the proposed closures are unacceptable, with the worst diversions taking walkers on to roads without pavements.
“Taking away the tranquillity of an off-road rural walk and replacing it with traffic noise and fumes is bad enough, but being forced onto a main road on a diversion and passing vehicles going at 50 or 60 miles an hour is frightening. In an age where the Government recognises the value of encouraging walking because of its benefits for health, the environment, and the economy, it is right that we oppose these proposals that adversely alter walking routes.”
If you’d like to find out more, you can sign up for updates and donate to our legal fund for this matter on our Network Rail campaign page.