Bridge could replace level crossing in Ashtead, Network Rail reveals

This Is Local London: The level crossing in Ashtead often jams and causes traffic chaos The level crossing in Ashtead often jams and causes traffic chaos

A bridge could be built to replace a level crossing that divides a village and frequently jams, Network Rail has revealed.

The unreliable barrier in Woodfield Lane, next to Ashtead station, got stuck yet again last week during the evening rush hour to the frustration of residents.

Epsom and Ewell MP Chris Grayling has been canvassing opinion over whether another route going over or under the railway line is needed.

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Network Rail, which has pledged to close a further 500 level crossings in the next five years to improve safety, said a bridge could be built elsewhere in Ashtead to solve the problem.

A spokesman told the Epsom Guardian: "We agree that Ashtead would benefit from a long-term solution as it is unusual to have such a large area relying on one level crossing.

"However, we would not be able to achieve that solution on our own for reasons both of logistics and cost.

"Any new crossing would likely take the form of a bridge and would be at another location, not where the existing level crossing lies.

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"We are happy to sit down and go through the options with stakeholders and will continue to engage with people in the area on the way forward."

Mr Grayling, who has received about 100 replies to the letter he sent to residents on February 7 about the issue, said: "I wrote to all the people affected on the far side of the railway line to see what their opinions are.

"I’m trying to gauge local opinion before having a discussion with Network Rail. I have said to people ‘what do you think the solution is?’"

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After the latest breakdown on Monday, February 24, Mr Grayling said: "It does seem to be happening with increasing regularity. At least the level crossing needs to be sorted out, but it may need more than that."

His letter to residents, said: "I have been in touch with Network Rail following the recent failures of the level crossing at Ashtead Station, which I know caused a great deal of inconvenience for many people locally, particularly those living in the ‘rail-locked’ part of Ashtead Common.

"Network Rail have offered to consider an alternative permanent crossing of some kind.

"I am not aware of any specific proposals, and I would like to have a clearer idea of the views of the people who live on the far side of the railway line before engaging in further discussions with the organisation.

"I am therefore writing to every household over the crossing to ask the people who live there what you think about the current crossing arrangements, whether you would be in favour of any changes, and also what your thoughts would be on an alternative crossing such as a bridge, underpass or similar."

Asked why he was only contacting people on the Ashtead Common side of the railway line, Mr Grayling said: "I wrote initially to get a sense of views rather than it being a systematic exercise. If anything serious happens we would have to consult much more widely."

After the barrier got stuck last week, a Network Rail spokesman said: "We share people's frustration with Ashtead level crossing - where the impact is magnified by its location - and we are taking the issue very seriously.

"This crossing is due for renewal in the next few years but until that can be done, we have engineers looking at how we can reduce the possibility of something going wrong there."

In January Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations, said despite closing 750 crossings in four years there was no room for complacency.

Mr Gisby said: "Britain’s railway is safer than ever before, but even so there will always be a certain level of risk to motorists or pedestrians where a road, footpath or cycleway crosses the tracks."

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