Meeting with Network Rail (NWR) - 3rd May 2019

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Members of Bramley Parish Council met with Network Rail Staff (NWR) at the Campus in Basingstoke on 3rd May 2019 to hear first-hand their view on a number of matters pertaining to their impact on Bramley. 

Level Crossing

  • It was noted that the half barriers were replaced approximately 15 years ago with full barriers.  Full barriers, with appropriate levels of service, have a life of approximately 25 years.  The barriers will under normal circumstances be reviewed in 10 years.
  • Full barriers are operated remotely from Basingstoke Station, with the aim of keeping rail traffic moving as efficiently as possible.  
  • There is a risk assessment every two years, and regular inspections as well.  The last assessment was December 2018 and the conclusion is “…that aside from the occasional tasking of the BTP mobile enforcement van, no further recommendations can be made at this crossing, and that the risk at the crossing is considered to be as low as is reasonably practicable.”
  • The assessment report also says “….. in line with NWR and Office of Rail and Road policy, closure should always be the preferred option for level crossings.  However it is recognised that this is not always reasonably practicable.“  Following discussions in 2017 with the Borough and County Councils regarding closure it was concluded that there was neither an alternative road route nor a compelling footbridge argument, and since then the option has not been progressed by NWR.
  • CCTV level crossings are considered the safest type of crossing available.  NWR have a legal requirement to provide the highest mitigation possible. 
  • Barriers are generally down 30-35 minutes in any hour.  Barrier normal downtime is generally 2-4 minutes.  The longest time the barriers are down in the week monitored was approximately 25 minutes (at around 10.00pm).  There appears to be another long period in the early morning.  Bramley PC noted that the barrier downtime figures feel familiar – a recent survey was done by Bramley PC for the Neighbourhood Plan.  It was stated in the meeting that when closure times regularly hit 45 out of every 60 minutes then closure would be considered.
  • NWR have held a footbridge design competition to find a design to meet the current and future requirements.  Key to the design winner is cost and inclusivity for all users.  This is in line with the NWR inclusivity policy 2015-19.
  • Bramley PC feel that any footbridge at the Bramley crossing should be fully inclusive and asked “Is that a driving force behind NWR design?  NWR stated that this would form part of a full study, and inclusivity would be fully considered.  Our MP’s statement [in a Basingstoke Gazette article of 20th February 2019] regarding the “miasma of toxic air” at the crossing lends welcome weight to the argument that any such crossing should be fully inclusive.  Bramley Parish Council’s advanced and thorough monitoring of air quality in the area of the level crossing does raise quantifiable concerns. These results are being reviewed by BDBC.  The PC feel there is no circumstance under which the less abled people, parents with small children and buggies, elderly with heavy shopping bags, etc should have to wait in this “miasma” whilst other fitter and more able people could cross with relative ease.   
  • Bramley PC asked if stepped footbridges were still being installed.  NWR replied that stepped footbridges still exist, but new ones are generally not being installed due to prohibitive cost.
  • NWR noted “that Bramley is not a high risk site, and would therefore not attract a lot of funding.  It would be hard to get a business case together.  NWR always look to work with inclusivity…” Operational management stated that there is very limited space at Bramley which would make a bridge very difficult to install.  Network Rail stated that a ramped bridge would not fit in the space available. 
  • Bramley PC asked if NWR feels that any design of footbridge is practical for Bramley.  NWR replied that plans have been seen from several years ago, but fitting any kind of footbridge in looked very tight.  NWR noted that it is unclear if Bramley is suitable for a footbridge.  Bramley PC observed that it would need to be future proof, and therefore would any footbridge allow for electrification?  NWR agreed that this would be the case.
  • Further to the above statement NWR stated that there are no short-term plans i.e. in next 5 years to close the crossing or consider installing a footbridge. 
  • Electrification – NWR confirmed that nothing will be built that would interfere with possible electrification at a later date.  NWR do not have a current timetable for electrification of the line through Bramley.

 

 

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