Thursday 20 Nov 2003


Region & Route:
| Southern
Transport Minister Dr Kim Howells MP is embarking on a regional tour of the country’s railway.  He is visiting a number of locations, including control centres, stations and depots. In East Anglia he has chosen to visit Highams Park level crossing.  As part of a £184 million modernisation, the crossing has been upgraded to a CCTV, centrally controlled, full barrier crossing.  This crossing is a good example of the investment in improved safety, in improved performance and modernising the railway. The Minister will travel to Highams Park on a special ‘anti-crime’ liveried train, which is emblazoned with the British Transport Police’s free and confidential telephone number.  During the train ride, railway crime ‘hot spots’ will be pointed out by the region’s dedicated British Transport Police Officer. The trip will finish at Highams Park, which is home to one of the region’s most misused level crossings. The Minister will see first-hand the problems the railway faces.  For example, there have been calls for this crossing to return to local control as the amount of time the barriers are down can cause traffic delays.  However, the new crossing is more reliable, safer – as it is interlocked with the signalling system and means trains can run at faster speeds, reducing delays. - more - Howells - 2 The crossing is subject to a great deal of misuse. Pedestrians and drivers frequently ignore the warnings at the level crossing putting lives at risk and creating delays as the signaller has to stop or caution the train. Kim Howells will witness Network Rail’s four protection methods installed at the crossing:  warning signs as you approach the crossing, crossing lights, yodel alarm and the barriers themselves. Dr Kim Howells MP said: "The modernisation of Highams Park level crossing is an impressive example of the strides being made by Network Rail across the country to improve safety." Mark Phillips, Network Rail Regional Director said: “Network Rail has been making a great deal of progress on the West Anglia route out of Liverpool Street Station, turning it into a railway fit for the 21st century.  However the misuse we experience has a detrimental effect on train performance and I am confident that the Minister will understand the difficulties we face.”

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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.

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