Mixed response to Helpston level crossing closure plans

Level crossing plans contain "good things and bad things" say Helpston resident Trevor Valentine. EMN-140714-091804001
Level crossing plans contain "good things and bad things" say Helpston resident Trevor Valentine. EMN-140714-091804001
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Network Rail’s proposals to replace the main Helpston level crossing in Glinton Road with a highway bridge have been welcomed.

But similar plans to close level crossings at Maxey Road, Helpston, and King Street, Lolham, will hamper access, residents say.

The rail infrastructure company is exploring options for closing level crossings and footpaths along the East Coast Main Line, in order to make the route “safer for pedestrians and improve the efficiently and reliability” of train services.

The proposals are:

○ Close the Helpston level crossing in Glinton Road and build a new road bridge;

○ Close Lolham’s level crossing and provide a footbridge as replacement to the crossing and nearby rail footpath;

○ Replace the level crossing in Maxey Road, Helpston, and provide a bridleway.

Dozens of residents turned out to view the plans displayed at Helpston Village Hall, last Thursday, as part of Network Rail’s public consultation.

Among them was Peter Brewer, regional secretary for the National Farmers Union from the Peterborough NFU branch.

Mr Brewer said the plans for the main Helpston crossing may not affect their members as the proposed overbridge will be open to all traffic.

“But closing the crossing in Maxey Road could be a major problem for farmers, unless the new bridge is strong enough for agricultural traffic,” he said.

Tim Franks, of Church Lane, Helpston, has farm land on either side of the level crossing in Maxey Road.

He too said: “The Helpston bridge will not be a problem for us.

“In Maxey Road, as long as they build a strong enough bridge we will not be affected badly.”

One of the proposals for Maxey Road is a 6-metre wide bridge for pedestrians and horses with access, possibly gated, for private vehicles.

Andrew Creasey, of Quarry Farm, Helpston, said as the road would be one way it would cause a problem.

Mr Creasey welcomed plans to build a bridge in Glinton Road but was concerned that “traffic will increase”.

Yvette Mackney, from Maxey, fears her horse riding will be hampered.

She said: “They have said they will possibly create a bridle way, but it’s only a possible option.

“I have horses which I ride from Maxey down to Helpston which I would not be able to do once they take the crossing away.

“The only option then will be to ride on a main road where traffic goes at 50 or 60 miles an hour.”

Mrs Mackney added: “Many people in Helpston are in favour of the plans because they are fed up of waiting at the level crossing, but they will be disappointed once the bridge is built as it will bring lots of traffic through Helpston.”

Deeping St James resident Louise Duckers who keeps her horse in Maxey also said the “implications were huge” as the route through Helpston would become a major thoroughfare once the bridge goes up.

Trevor Valentine, of Maxey Road, in Helpston said: “The proposals have good things and bad things. The bridge is going to be good for Helpston but it is going to bring lots more traffic.

“Lots of people who don’t use the village now will start to come through here, so the traffic will double.”

Helpston parish clark Syd Smith said: “There is concern about the traffic volume increasing but then it could decrease, no one really knows. People in Helpston have wanted something done about the level crossing for the last 30 years and it seems to be in hand now.”

Communities will be given feedback on Network Rail’s preferred options during the second round of public consultation in the winter.

Phil Verster, route managing director for Network Rail stressed the options were only at “the proposal stage” and residents still had the opportunity to have their say.

The consultation also covers the level crossing on the A1175 in Tallington.

“Network Rail has revealed two options for closing it and building a road bridge.

Plans to close the level crossing between Greatford and Belmesthorpe, rerouting road traffic over the railway via the Greatford Road bridge, are also being considered.

And the pedestrian level crossing at Casewick could also be closed, with walkers being diverted to the Greatford Road bridge.

This would either be via a private access track or on new pathways through fields, parallel to the railway line.

Comments and views on the rail company’s proposals being put forward can be made until August 8 online at https://networkrail.citizenspace.com/communications/east-coast-main-line-level-crossing-closure-study/consult_view

The proposed options

Glinton Road, Helpston

Option 1: close the crossing and build a bridge for vehicles, with a footpath/cycleway, immediately to the south of the crossing, and access to homes.

Option 2: close the crossing and build a bridge about 450m south of it, with a footpath/cycleway, and access to homes.

Maxey Road, Helpston

Option 1: close the crossing to all traffic and replace it with a bridleway bridge with gated private vehicle access only immediately to the west of the existing crossing.

All other traffic to be diverted via existing roads and new bridges at Tallington and Helpston.

Option 2: close crossing to all traffic and build new cycle/footbridge next to existing crossing. Traffic to be diverted via existing roads and new bridges at Tallington and Helpston.

King Street, Lolham

Option 1: close crossing to all traffic and build new cycle/footbridge at the adjacent footpath crossing. Vehicles diverted via the new Tallington and Helpston bridges.