MP’s fight to save crossing in Halesworth

Therese Coffey

Therese Coffey - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk MP has vowed to do all she can to prevent a railway platform crossing being closed.

MP for Suffolk Coastal Therese Coffey has stepped up her bid to save Halesworth station’s barrow crossing by meeting with several figures involved in the decision making process.

Network Rail is proposing to close the crossing by the end of the year, and has called it the most dangerous in East Anglia.

However, a full risk assessment on the crossing is due to be published soon.

And Dr Coffey this week met with Network Rail’s chief executive Mark Carne to challenge their proposal.

It follows a meeting she held with Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, on his visit to see the East Suffolk Line.

Last week, Dr Coffeey joined Mr Prosser at the crossing as he inspected it.

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Dr Coffey said: “I was pleased to able to join the Chief Inspector of Railways on his visit to Halesworth. Having seen Network Rail’s assessment, he decided to visit the East Suffolk line and Halesworth particularly.

“I hope to see his report shortly, which will also be presented to Network Rail for review as part of his assessment on the risk.

“In my discussion with Mark Carne, he assured me he would look carefully at the report before making a final decision on the closure of the crossing, especially if it challenges Network Rail’s own assessment on risk or if it suggests other ways of keeping the crossing open.”

She has previously met with the regional director of Network Rail, the Rail Minister and the rail regulator to try and keep the crossing open.

Dr Coffey added: “Halesworth residents and rail passengers have made their feelings over the proposed closure very clear. Rail safety is important and some crossings may well have to be closed.

“However, I do think that somewhat arbitrary closures give this process a bad name. In the future, we will all have to be much more safety aware and use the crossing properly but I have been doing all I can to try and keep it open.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Suffolk County Councillor for Halesworth Tony Goldson.

“I’m quite prepared to work with Network Rail to make the crossing safer - not that I think it’s dangerous at the moment,” he said. “But we’re not prepared to just sit back and let them close it. We will continue the fight to keep it open.”

Angry residents stormed out of a Network Rail meeting earlier this month when the company’s area director Steve Hooker said the decision to close crossing had already been made. He said assessments found 206 people had crossed dangerously behind a train over a nine-day survey period and that four “near misses” had been reported by drivers at the station this year.