Fears over plans which could signal closure of rail crossing

Fears over plans which could signal closure of rail crossing

MORE than 60 residents attended a meeting hosted by MP Jo Cox to address concerns over plans to remove the railway signal box at Howley Street in Batley.

Signalling improvements by Network Rail mean the box will be removed.

This casts doubt on the future of the adjacent Lady Anne level crossing, which is controlled from the signal box.

Mrs Cox arranged the Saturday morning consultation following a meeting with Network Rail in parliament, where she raised residents’ concerns.

The Batley and Spen MP said: “This was a very productive meeting and very well attended. Network Rail had the chance to outline their plans and thoughts and residents were able to feed back their concerns, comments and their hopes as the scheme moves forward.

“It is quite clear to me that the crossing is well used, although opinion is divided on what exactly should happen there going forward.

“Nevertheless, residents made some very good and well reasoned arguments that I am confident Network Rail will take on board.”

Residents questioned closing the level crossing due to safety risks and asked whether it could be maintained with an automated system.

One suggestion is to erect a footbridge in place of the crossing. Residents raised concerns about the design, scale and location of such a bridge and whether it would accommodate horse riders who often use the level crossing.

There were also concerns about loss of access for emergency vehicles, the usage and monitoring data being used by Network Rail and the potential for inconvenience for those seeking to cross between Upper Batley and Soothill.

Mrs Cox added: “I will raise all the issues in writing with Network Rail as well as a series of other questions and concerns that arose. I look forward to organising further meetings to discuss this again.”

Simon Lewis, from Network Rail, who made a presentation at the meeting at St Thomas’s Church, said safety and reducing risk was a driving factor in their thinking.

He said he would feed back all the concerns and comments raised and pledged to hold a follow-up meeting to discuss the proposals further.

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