Network Rail has submitted a revised planning application to build a pedestrian footbridge at Downham Market station. The proposal is part of Network Rail’s programme to further improve the safety of crossings across the country.
The original planning application for the footbridge was lodged with Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Council in August, but was withdrawn to enable Network Rail to amend and improve the design following feedback from a wide range of stakeholders.
Both council officers and the Railway Heritage Trust accepted the need for the footbridge in principle and, in addition, English Heritage suggested some amendments to the design which would have improved the aesthetic appeal and overall impact of the proposed footbridge.
Andrew Munden, Network Rail route director for Anglia, said: “Level crossings are safe if used correctly, but the sheer level of misuse at Downham Market poses a serious question for us. The best solution is a footbridge, which will allow us to close the current foot crossing and improve access to the car park and between platforms."
All level crossings are safe if used correctly – but unfortunately the crossing at Downham is misused on a daily basis with a number of near-misses with trains reported. This constant misuse of the crossing means that Network Rail and the train operating company, First Capital Connect, are increasingly concerned about the risk of a serious incident in the future.
The proposed footbridge would mean that the current barrow crossing, one of the highest risk crossings on the rail network, would be able to be closed in order to improve safety for rail users who have to cross the tracks. It would provide permanent, safe access for rail users between platforms 1 and 2 as well as improved direct access to Fairfield Road car park.
Mr Munden continued: “We have received feedback from across the rail industry, heritage organisations and from within the local community and the reaction has been broadly positive. By making some amendments to the design of the proposed footbridge we believe we are putting forward a practical, simple design which will serve the town well.”
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain’s railway – the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.5bn journeys by rail every year; an increase of 50% in a decade. We’re investing £38bn in the railway by 2019 to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.