Friday 16 Dec 2016
Safer railway crossing for motorists as new bridge opens at Ufton Nervet
Residents and motorists will benefit from a safer railway crossing at Ufton Nervet in Berkshire as a new bridge was opened on Friday, 16 December to replace the level crossing, as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.
The new bridge completely separates road and rail traffic at the site, which has experienced several incidences of misuse, including a collision between a car and a train which claimed seven lives and left many injured in 2004.
Network Rail’s regional director of infrastructure projects, Robbie Burns, was present at the opening, along with members of the Ufton Nervet survivors’ support group, GWR’s head of drivers’, Mark Heffernan, and local councillors.
The new bridge cost around £7 million to construct; funding for which became available as part of Network Rail’s ongoing modernisation work to bring Brunel’s railway into the 21st century. The level crossing is now permanently closed.
The preparatory work for construction involved moving the location of the memorial garden dedicated to those who lost their lives and those that were affected by the collision in 2004 on the south of the crossing to the north side, to join the memorial garden for Mr Stanley Martin, the driver of the train. This now allows easy access for those wishing to pay their respects.
Work commenced on site in April this year following public engagement events, and has been completed on time and on budget.
Network Rail has worked closely with the survivors’ support group through the process of planning and delivering this work.
Jane Hawker of the Ufton Nervet survivors’ support group said: “It is hard to put into words what the opening of the bridge at Ufton Nervet means to me.
“As a survivor of the 2004 crash, I will always live with the memories and the consequences, but the closure of the crossing means that I will no longer dread hearing about another incident happening there. It gives me a form of closure, and makes the area safer for the wider public.
“The recognition by Network Rail of the importance of building this bridge, at all levels of the organisation, has been liberating for me, and the personal dedication of all involved with the construction has been heart-warming.”
Robbie Burns, regional director of infrastructure projects for Network Rail, said: “The closure of this level crossing has been a long-time coming for those affected by the tragedy in 2004 and we are pleased that we have now been able to separate road from rail traffic at this site.
“I would like to offer sincere thanks to the survivors’ support group and residents, who we have worked very closely with during this project. Their input has been invaluable, and I am pleased that the opening of this bridge can offer a degree of closure on the tragic incidents which have occured here.
“As a part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, Network Rail has been operating a level crossing closure programme, which has already seen over 1,000 level crossings closed on Britain’s rail network. Our railway is the safest in Europe, and we will continue to work to improve safety at level crossings where possible.”
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 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.