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End of yellow brick road

Posted on November 27 2017 at 3:36:09


Network Rail has confirmed that it intends to close Blackwell’s “yellow brick road” railway crossing permanently and replace it with a diversion, despite opposition from residents and parish councillors.

Richard Dugdale, senior sponsor for Network Rail’s electrification programme, faced a backlash from residents as he delivered a update to the Lickey & Blackwell parish council meeting.

“This crossing was previously assessed as being tolerably safe, but with the new timetable bringing faster and more frequent trains, that is no longer the case – so something had to be done,” he said.

Mr Dugdale said that surveillance of the crossing revealed that although most people used it “properly”, there were several cases of walkers wearing headphones or looking at phones while holding a child’s hand or with dogs off the lead.

Project manager Alistair Keen said that Network Rail had looked at all alternative options, but a diversion was the only feasible solution.

He said a subway tunnel would be disruptive, costly and liable to flooding; a footbridge would cost around £1 million and require the purchase of adjacent land from Severn Trent, who were not prepared to sell; and traffic lights or barriers were not safe enough due to the unique track layout at Blackwell.

Resident Jeremy Hughes said: “Surely the difficulty of building a subway could be overcome – the cost is Network Rail’s problem.”  He also pointed out that the crossing is a public right of way.

Mr Dugdale replied that the money would be coming from the “public purse”, as Network Rail was “joined at the hip” with the Government.

Answering claims that the current temporary diversion – via Linthurst Newtown and Blackwell Road – was unsafe, he said Network Rail now planned to create a pavement for at least part of the route, with help from the county council’s highways department.

Dorothy Key and Wendy McClure expressed concerns over speeding vehicles along the narrow Blackwell Road, and Mr Dugdale agreed that “speed restriction is the only way – I’m sure that we and the parish council have the ear of the highways department.”

The other side of the debate was represented by Carl Shakes, who said he fully supported the closure. “I’ve lived in Blackwell for many years and my family decided a few years ago not to use the crossing – it’s very dangerous and getting more so.”

Councillors agreed that they would support a diversion as long as it was completely safe, and would push for a lower speed limit as a matter of urgency before the closure became permanent.

They also discussed erecting warning signs to alert motorists to the presence of pedestrians.

Parish chairman Nick Forknell said he hoped that Network Rail would apply some pressure, as “highways don’t do quick!”

See also Parish fights back on lifts and Village Views

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