Monday 11 Oct 2021
Crossing the railway in the village of Bobbing to be made safer for residents
- Region & Route:
- Southern: Kent
Network Rail has unveiled plans to improve the safety of crossing a 90mph railway line at a village outside Sittingbourne in North Kent.
The crossing - in Bobbing - was closed in March 2021 under an emergency temporary closure due to a number of high-risk incidents, many of which involved children. The footpath, also known as ‘Simpsons’, is on the busy Victoria to Ramsgate line, which sees 183 trains travelling each day at high speed.
It is used by around 110 people per day ,including many vulnerable users such as children, dog walkers, the elderly, those with push chairs and cyclists.
Simpsons Crossing has a significant history of incidents and misuse with 43 incidents picked up by sensors, cameras, rail staff or train drivers since the start of 2017. Seven of these led to train drivers having to apply emergency brakes. There have also been two deaths at the crossing in recent years.
The temporary closure was put in place after an application to Kent County Council, whilst a safer, permanent alternative could be progressed. After liaison with Kent County Council Highways and National Highways (previously Highways England), an alternative route has been proposed.
The proposed new route takes the public away from the railway, along a designated path to the Sheppey Road overbridge. The plans include improvements for the pavements along the new route.
The proposals were presented to residents at a public meeting at the village hall on Friday 8th October where the level crossings team at Network Rail listened to feedback and answered questions from residents. There will be a further public meeting in approximately two weeks’ time.
Network Rail Route Director for Kent, Fiona Taylor, said: “The Simpsons Crossing in Bobbing is on a fast line and on a curve meaning it does not have adequate visibility each way for users. A study we conducted found in just two years over forty incidents occurred which posed a risk to life, including ones which involved train drivers having to apply their emergency brakes.
“We have therefore signalled our intention to permanently close the crossing and move to an alternative pavement route via the Sheppey Way.
“We would like to work as closely as possible with the local community on implementing the alternative which will be safer and lower the risk to life.”
New pavements and other pedestrian and mobility-friendly features will be installed on the Sheppey Way to further improve safety on the alternative route.
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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.