Railway crossing set for closure as operator confirms new bridleway

REPLACED: Abbots Ripton level crossing is set to close and a safer alternative is to be put in place

REPLACED: Abbots Ripton level crossing is set to close and a safer alternative is to be put in place - Credit: Archant

A level crossing over the railway at Abbots Ripton is set to be closed and a new bridleway for pedestrians will be opened as a replacement, taking pedestrians through an existing underpass.

The move, which has now been approved by the Secretary of State for Transport, is part of a scheme by Network Rail to reintroduce a fourth track on the East Coast Main Line, running between Huntingdon and Woodwalton, which will remove a critical bottleneck and enable the running of more frequent and faster trains.

Network Rail said the extra track would be a greater risk for pedestrians who would now have to cross four tracks to get over the line instead of the present three, and this was not considered acceptable.

The order means that the crossing will be closed and a new bridleway route will be put in place, taking advantage of the existing underbridge.

Councillor Geoff Richardson, chairman of Abbots Ripton Parish Council, said the level crossing had not been used by vehicles for decades but that it was still used by pedestrians.

He said the change would not be a major inconvenience for residents and would involve walking parallel to the railway to get to the underpass and back on the other side of the line.

“It is a circular route which people use to exercise their dogs and means walking a few extra more yards and would give them some good extra exercise,” Cllr Richardson said.

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Network Rail has been looking at closing or replacing level crossings on the main line to improve the efficiency of the rail network and to boost safety.

It said the diversion crossed a field off Rectory Way by way of a grass track and hard-surfaced roads, with the bridleway being diverted across private land around 400m south of the existing crossing.

The underbridge is high enough to accommodate horse riders and the scheme would only involve minor work to put up new signs and fencing.

The busy crossing at Offord, which is a key route for vehicles, is one of the crossings which is also in line for replacement.