By Ewan Foskett
Thursday, September 6, 2012
NEW safety measures at a level crossing failed less than a month after they were installed, with a councillor labelling it a “joke”.
Network Rail upgraded Foxton level crossing in June after a sustained campaign by a rail users group.
But on August 25 the pedestrian gates broke and were not fixed until Sunday.
County councillor and chairman of the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group Susan van de Ven said: “People were put at risk when the gates broke as villagers had to walk on to the road to get to one side of the A10 to the other.
“This was after all the momentum that built up to get the mechanism fixed – it is not good.
“They need to be concerned about us and understand the facts that we need a permanent solution.
“The present situation is a joke, so many people said they were going to contact me.
“It is like a broken record, but it is a very serious matter.”
August’s failure is the latest in a catalogue of problems at the crossing.
Before the new mechanism was installed the gates failed, trapping two teenage girls inside the crossing – luckily they escaped unharmed.
Mechanical hitches are nothing new, as the gates underwent improvement work in 2011, but a key component was not upgraded, which meant they worked on 50-year-old technology.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “The recent problem at Foxton was not with the new locking mechanism itself, but a power supply issue, which affected the gates, and has now been fixed. We apologise, and to prevent this happening again, will be carrying out work to upgrade the power supply.”
Cllr van de Ven said the latest problem with the gates was not fixed until she had contacted high-ranking Network Rail staff, who were initially unaware of the problem.
She added she could see only one safe solution for the crossing.
“The more I have learned about what’s possible, I think an underpass is the best way forward,” she said.
“We need a safe crossing for pedestrians, and it has been explained to me there is very little room for a bridge over the A10 ,as the electrics are so high above the crossing.”