Public Meeting Into Willingdon Trees Level Crossing

Thursday 3rd November 2016

eastbourne buzz news - Willingdon Trees Level Crossing

A string of near misses and incidents with children is behind Network Rail’s plan to close a level crossing at Willingdon Trees.

There have been 19 incidents in the last five years at the crossing,– the most recent being a near miss with a young child.

Network Rail plans to build a footbridge over the line by May 2017, but wants to close the crossing now – before anyone gets hurt.

Network Rail’s route managing director for the South East, John Halsall, said, “My team will be replacing Willingdon Trees level crossing with a bridge within seven months, but I don’t want us to have to wait until the bridge is built.

“We have seen several incidents where people, including children, could have been killed and we also know that young people use this crossing as a means to trespass on the railway.

“We have sought permission from East Sussex County Council and will close this crossing as soon as possible.

“I know this will come as a shock to some, but I cannot leave this crossing open. I’m keen to work with the community to close it, so we can keep them – and their children – safe.”

The crossing will be temporarily closed on Sunday, November 13, and will reopen as a footbridge.

Incidents over the past two years at Willingdon Trees include:

  • Two girls sitting between the rails, very close to touching the high-voltage electric conductor rail. If they had touched this rail, it would have killed them. Electricity to power trains is always live
  • Stones being thrown at trains
  • Four incidents of young people playing “chicken”
  • Most recently a very near miss with a child aged between 8-11

In addition, the stiles, signs and wooden planks have been repeatedly vandalised.

Network Rail has closed more than 1,000 level crossings nationwide and is spending £100m every year as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a safer and more reliable railway. Many crossings have been replaced with bridges and others have been diverted onto different, safer routes where possible.

Network Rail plans to submit plans for the new footbridge to Wealden District Council in December 2016, with a public meeting due to be held at Willingdon Trees Community Centre on Monday (7 November) at 7pm for those living near the railway.

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