NETWORK rail has said sorry for the flurry of level crossing failures around the Chichester in recent weeks which have caused misery for motorists.
The crossing next to Chichester Railway Station has been stuck down on at least three occasions since the end of October, and problems have also occurred at Bosham and Fishbourne.
Chris Denham from Network Rail said: “We continue to work hard to maintain and improve the existing equipment and fix problems as soon as they arise, to avoid delaying traffic or trains.
“However, our priority is always the safety of road and rail users and we appreciate their patience when things do go wrong.”
Mr Denham said the large number of level crossings were built instead of bridges along the coastal line many years ago to save money, leaving Network Rail to struggle to constantly maintain them.
“The railway through Chichester and along the Sussex coast was built in the Victorian era when the roads were much quieter than today,” he said.
“As a result of that, and to save money, the builders put up level crossings instead of bridges in towns along the coast.
“Nowadays, Network Rail has been left with a legacy of level crossings to maintain and operate and the various towns have been left with roads that get blocked whenever trains are due.
“While we do try and close level crossings where we can, in many locations the proximity of buildings means it is not possible to do so without causing massive disruption and at a huge cost.
“Because level crossings are safety critical - and they are also the railway’s biggest single source of risk - they are designed to fail-safe. “Hence, whenever any crossing has a technical fault, it will stop operating - either blocking the railway, or more frequently the road.
“The Sussex coast’s crossings are no different from any other, there are just more of them. For instance, Lancing signalbox controls ten CCTV level crossings on its own - all of which will make the news if they fail even for a short period.”
He added that the crossing at Ford was recently replaced.
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