Fisherman’s Path level crossing is now OPEN with new zigzag safety approach complete
Fishermans Path Level Crossing is now open. It opened at 6pm on Monday 30th October with a brand new safety feature installed.
Workmen at the crossing were just finishing off some minor painting jobs today. Network Rail staff who like to be Known as 'The A'Team, Robert, Steve, Steve and Ian (pictured above) were only too happy to pose for a photo at the completed works.
Network Rail closed the crossing at 11pm on Monday 16th October for two weeks whilst the works were carried out. The vehicle and pedestrian gates have been repositioned, new fencing and crossing deck installed, the foot markings have been resurfaced with solar lights for crossing at night time, a new zigzag approach from both directions is now in place.
The design is to make users more aware that they are approaching a crossing and give them more time to consider travelling across it safely.
A disability-accessible bridge remains a top priority for campaigners who have been promised by Network Rail that discussions on such a facility will take place in the near future. Harington Ward Councillor Michael Pitt said that he has received 'fresh assurances' that the long-term plans to create the bridge will remain a 'top priority' for Network Rail, dispelling long-term closure rumours.
Cllr Michael Pitt, Cllr Simon Jamieson and Cllr Denise Dutton at the crossing
Cllr Michael Pitt said: “We welcome the works to install the short-term solution but our long-term plan is to focus on the disability-accessible bridge to ensure that everyone's right-of-way is given a permanent solution."
“We spoke to Network Rail last week to check that they will ensure that working towards creating the bridge is a priority and they have given us fresh assurances that they will. We will continue to work with Network Rail officers including their head of safety, health and environment, and the company’s project manager, along with members of the council’s planning and highway development team to resolve the long-term safety issues."
“The long-term plan is to maintain the public's access to the right of way but it needs to be fair for everyone – the bridge needs to be suitable for wheelchair users, cyclists and those with prams. All of the solutions come back to having a bridge. The improved crossing makes people safer in the short term but a bridge would be by far the safest option – especially as the crossing features at number one in the Network Rail dangerous pedestrian crossings list. The eventual plan is to have the bridge in use for all members of the public and a separate arrangement for the home-owners who use the crossing as an access point, making the risk as low as it can possibly be.”
Network Rail announced a 21 day emergency closure of the level crossing in July, after a cyclist was nearly struck by a train, and then extended it for a further 21 days.
The crossing, which is described as ‘one of the most dangerous in the UK’ was reopened after more than 1,000 people signed a petition arguing against its sudden closure – and was then manned by rail safety wardens for the full hours that trains operated on the stretch.
There have been three fatal accidents at the crossing in the last three years.
Network Rail have completed the following work:
1 - Removal of the current crossing deck and installation of a new deck. This will separate the pedestrian and vehicular sections of the crossing
2 - Repositioning of vehicle and pedestrian gates
3 - Resurfacing of the foot crossing/approach roads with new, clearer markings
4 - Installation of new fencing
Priti Patel, head of safety for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “The safety of crossing users and train passengers is our top priority. We are keen to improve safety at this location both in the short term by making changes to the crossing itself and in the long term by providing an alternative option across the railway. We will continue discussions with the local council to try and find a permanent solution at Fishermans Path Level Crossing.”
Due to the safety of the workforce, most of the work took place when trains were not running. It was therefore necessary to work overnight throughout the closure of the crossing.
The gate before the changes
The gate after the changes
Network Rail is committed to improving safety at level crossings. A spokesman said: "If Britain was building the railway now, there wouldn’t be any level crossings. The safest level crossing is a closed one and in the last seven years we have closed more than 1,000. Nationally, there are still 6,000 level crossings open and we work with a range of stakeholders, including local authorities and landowners, to maintain and improve safety levels wherever possible."