Hopes raised for bridge to replace Fen Road level crossing in Cambridge
New hopes have been raised for a bridge to replace the notorious Fen Road level crossing.
A bid to fund a feasibility study has been submitted, and the councillor responsible has claimed Network Rail support will add weight to the plan.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Ian Manning said the proposed developments on the nearby sewage works provide a “once in a generation opportunity” to remove the crossing.
His plan is to use part of the £80,000 allocated to the area by Govia Thameslink’s passenger benefit fund to carry out the study.
Cllr Manning told the Cambridge North Area Committee at Cambridge City Council on Thursday (September 5): “I’m really excited to hear Network Rail staff willing to help push this up the priority list – and making the dreams of me and many of my constituents a reality.”
He said if the funding is approved by Govia Thameslink’s passenger benefit fund he hopes to have the study commissioned this year and completed early next year.
He has applied for a technical feasibility study into a road, cycle and footbridge over the railway line, “which would allow the closing of the level crossing permanently”.
And he said campaigners on the issue estimate the crossing is closed for “more like 45 minutes in an hour than the average 33 Network Rail quote”.
There is currently no proposed route, which is one potential consideration for the feasibility study if it goes ahead, but the intention is to remove the need for the crossing by better connecting the areas on either side of the railway line.
The committee heard from regional Network Rail officials who said the crossing’s barriers are down for an average of 33 minutes an hour.
Clare Webb, an operations manager at Network Rail, said the timing is a “huge concern”.
She said: “It’s high and we are aware of that and we want to fix it.”
She said measures are being taken to reduce the waiting time for motorists, but also warned that the railway line is likely to become busier over time.
The meeting also heard from Inspector Gary Pinner from British Transport Police, who acknowledged there are antisocial behaviour issues related to the crossing.
He said his officers would “refocus” on the issue.
John Prest, Network Rail’s route level crossing manager for West Anglia, spoke supportively of the idea for a feasibility study, and said: “A bridge would absolutely be the answer.”
Although speaking after the meeting he played down hopes of material changes anytime soon, and said there were many stages the project would have to pass through before construction.
He said even if the idea is feasible, it could be “years away,” and the operational priority is “risk elimination first” for the current crossing.
It comes as a British Transport Inspector urged residents to keep an anti-social behaviour diary of incidents in the Fen Road crossing area.
More by this authorBen Hatton, Local Democracy Reporter
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