July 31 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
An alternative link between Buckden and the Offords must be found if Network Rail goes ahead with its plan to close a busy level crossing.
That’s the message from residents who would face lengthy detours via St Neots or Huntingdon should Station Lane be closed to traffic.
The crossing is one of many on the East Coast Main Line earmarked for closure – but details of what would be put in its place are yet to be revealed.
When approached by The Hunts Post, Network Rail said it could not release details.
Its statement said: “We are still working on the plans for Offord crossing and as soon as they ready we will be sharing these proposals.”
But the organisation has not got long because its representative is due to provide some explanation at a meeting of Offord Cluny and Offord D’Arcy Parish Council tomorrow (Thursday).
Offords district councillor Richard West urged people to attend. He said: “Yes, Station Lane can close but we must have an alternative crossing that links Offord and Buckden.
“We’ve been promised that for any crossing that’s closed there must be an alternative and we have to make sure Network Rail sticks to that.”
Cllr West said the road is blocked by train barriers for 35 minutes every hour, and up to nine minutes at a time, while the route also suffers from flooding which also forces it to be shut to traffic.
“What we have got now is not ideal,” he added. “The only way is to have a new river crossing.”
Offords parish councillor Bob Bargh added: “Closing it would be disastrous. A high percentage of people who live in the village go to doctors and the dentist in Buckden, it’s the nearest for shopping, a lot of people use the marina.”
Mr Bargh said a new crossing could be built in conjunction with the upgraded A14, which is expected to be built north of The Offords.
Network Rail’s consultation on plans to close crossing points includes roads and footpaths between London and Doncaster.
Its spokesman added: “We understand that level crossings are a road and rail issue and are talking to local authorities to explore options for closing crossings.”
Public meetings regarding the Station Lane crossing, and the footpath at Gills Crossing, are to be held at the Offords Village Hall from 11am-3pm on Saturday, July 19 and from 2-8pm on Tuesday, July 24.
INFORMATION: Tomorrow’s parish council meeting will be at 7.30pm. All welcome. To comment on Network Rail’s plans, email ECMLlevelcrossings@networkrail.co.uk.