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Rail safety in Essex to improve as bridges and an underpass replace six level crossings

Work to replace six level crossings in Essex with modern, safer alternatives has begun as part of Network Rail’s national level crossing safety improvement programme.

The six level crossings at Motts Lane (Witham), Long Green (Marks Tey), Shaw Avenue (Shenfield), Billericay West Park Avenue, Golf Links (Chelmsford), and Ingatestone Hall will all be replaced by either a footbridge or underpass enabling the public to cross the railway safely. The closures have been enabled by the support of Essex County Council and Braintree District Council follow the closure of 93 other level crossings in the Anglia region, as part of Network Rail’s efforts to reduce the risk of accidents taking place at level crossings.

Richard Schofield, route managing director, Network Rail, said: “Where a road, footpath or cycleway meets the railway there will always be a certain level of risk to motorists or pedestrians. Network Rail is committed to reduce that risk as much as possible, so if we can close a level crossing and replace it with alternative means of crossing the railway, we will.

“Safety is our number one priority. By working closely with our local authority partners, the new, modern alternative crossings at each of these Essex level crossings will provide the public with a much safer route across the railway.”

Work on site to close Motts Lane level crossing in Witham and replace it with a ramped bridleway bridge began in September, with the bridge deck due to be lifted into place over the Christmas period. The £2.3m scheme, which has received a £500,000 contribution from Braintree District Council, will be completed and open to the public by March 2014. Long Green level crossing in Marks Tey will be replaced by a ramped footbridge, and will follow the same timeframe for closure as neighbouring Motts Lane.

Shaw Avenue, Billericay West Park Avenue and Golf Links level crossings will all be replaced with stepped footbridges when work begins in the coming weeks. There have been five incidents of misuse and one near miss since 2007 at Shaw Avenue level crossing in Shenfield which is set to be closed from February 2014. Work to close Golf Links level crossing will begin in November and is due for completion in March 2014.

Following a temporary closure, a new pedestrian underpass will replace Ingatestone Hall level crossing when it is completed in March 2014.

County Councillor Rodney L Bass, Cabinet Member for Highways & Transportation said, “Essex County Council supports the commitment from Network Rail to provide safe public rights of way at level crossings across the county. The works at each of the crossings concerned will necessitate temporary closures, and Essex Highways is working in partnership with Network Rail to ensure the extent of disruption is kept to a minimum during the closure periods.”

Network Rail has closed over 700 level crossings across Britain since 2009 as part of its £130m investment programme to improve level crossing safety. The Office of Rail Regulation has also confirmed it will provide funding to close a further 500 level crossings over the five year period starting from 1 April 2014.

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