Rail crossing plans finally revealed

And local residents can have their say too

DETAILS of a long-running plan for an underpass linking two ends of Royston have been revealed.

Herts County Council (HCC) has confirmed work has started on a �3.8 million crossing going underneath the railway line between the Burns Road estate and Green Street.

It is due to be installed by contractors Birse Rail and will be completed by March 2012.

Stuart Pile, HCC executive member for highways and transport, said: “The residents of Royston have been waiting a long time for a crossing that will link the two parts of the town and provide a safer route for pedestrians.

“We’re very pleased to announce Birse Rail as the contractors who will undertake this work.”

The underpass, dubbed Coombes Hole by residents, was first mooted in 1976. It wasn’t until 2005 that a public consultation was carried out by HCC which showed support for the project.

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Martin White, Head of Birse Rail, said: “We are delighted to be awarded the contract for the design and construction of Royston Railway Crossing.

“We look forward to working closely with Hertfordshire County Council and the project stakeholders to deliver this important project.”

HCC is to provide the majority of the money needed for the plans, with local travel crossing company Sustrans (�700,000) and North Herts District Council (�300,000) also contributing.

Cllr Tom Brindley, NHDC portfolio holder for Transport and Planning, said: “With a lot of hard work and support from local schools, businesses and partnerships the project is now becoming a reality.

“The crossing will provide a safer and more convenient route for school children, pedestrians and cyclists who wish to cross the town.”

A HCC statement said: “In Royston, the railway divides the town in half, with no way of crossing on foot except via a busy road at one end of town. This project will deliver an underpass allowing pedestrians and cyclists easy access across town.

“The underpass linking the northern part of the town directly with the leisure centre and the main complex of schools will also benefit a large number of pupils who have to cross the railway line from the new development to their school.”

SUSTRANS Connect2, a UK-wide project which helps to build new bridges and crossings, are urging the residents of Royston to come forward and nominate a local person to be immortalised in the project.

They are to build three life-size statues of important local people to stand alongside a bench at one end of the crossing, as part of a 79 similar projects nationally.

Local residents, including school children, have the opportunity to put forward nominations and it will then be the job of the stakeholder group to put together a shortlist.

The stakeholder group is made up of local councillors, school head teachers, police and representatives from walking and cycling groups. This short list will be passed to the Town Council who will confirm the final line-up by the end of May 2011.

Nomination forms are available from Royston Town Hall and Royston Library. Forms are also being circulated to schools in the area. They should be returned by April 8.

Nigel Brigham, Sustrans regional director for the East of England, said: “We are really looking forward to seeing who the local community would like to immortalise in steel as part of this exciting art project.

“Portraiture is a traditional way for communities to recognise loved ones, or those who have inspired them, and provides an opportunity for the people of Royston to show us how they see themselves and their history.”