Thursday 22 Mar 2018
Woman who lost her leg at level crossing backs plans to close it
A woman who lost her leg when she was struck by a train at a Hampshire level crossing has backed Network Rail’s plans to replace it with a ramped footbridge.
Lucy Ruck (nee Ottaway) has written an open letter to Rushmoor Borough Council calling on them to approve proposals to close the Farnborough North pedestrian level crossing, saying she was ‘incredibly lucky’ she was not killed.
The footpath crossing is one of only three in the country that is so dangerous it must be staffed throughout the train service to keep people safe.
Network Rail will be submitting plans next month to build a £2.2 million ramped footbridge, providing safe access over the railway line to the 1,700 people who use it daily.
“I was incredibly lucky. This was not the case 8 years earlier where someone had lost their life at the same spot in similar circumstances.
“I am struggling to understand why anyone would resist a bridge being put up here, especially as Network Rail want to make it accessible to everyone, including those with buggies and wheelchairs.
“So this is my public plea to allow Network Rail to build a bridge at this dangerous crossing.”
Stewart Firth, director of sponsorhip for Network Rail's Wessex route, said:
“Pedestrian level crossings are a Victorian throwback and have no place on a modern railway.
“There is absolutely no way 111-tonne trains travelling at 70mph should be sharing space with school children, people on mobility scooters or mums and dads with pushchairs.
“These attendants are a short term fix to a stop another tragic incident, like the one Lucy has so bravely spoken about.
“We need to remove this risk entirely for the benefit of everyone and build a footbridge.”
The crossing at Farnborough North has a history of deliberate misuse, near misses and serious incidents, including one fatality and several serious injuries.
A community drop-in information event was also held in the town last month to keep residents informed of Network Rail’s plans. Network Rail also worked with Rushmoor Borough Council during design development in 2016 and received pre-planning advice which has been reflected in the proposed design.
Plans for the new bridge are due to be submitted on 24 April. Should the application be successful, the new, safe railway crossing at Farnborough North would be open in March next year.
About Network Rail
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.
Every day, there are more than 4.8 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.