PEDESTRIANS continue to take their lives into their own hands as they ignore a new footbridge over a railway line.
The Fishbourne footbridge was opened at the end of August, but since then people have continued to cross the dangerous tracks – leading to some near-misses.
Network Rail has now sought a temporary closure of the crossing.
“While the footbridge has been open, there have been a number of users who have chosen to take the safer route over the bridge, but until a legal decision is taken on closing the foot crossing, it has remained open for use,” said the company’s community relations manager Rupal Patel.
“Due to the ongoing risk to both public on the crossing and users of the rail network, this led Network Rail to request a temporary closure of the crossing from West Sussex County Council, while the process to seek approval to make a permanent diversion is completed to prevent any further safety events occurring.”
The temporary closure is due to take effect from Monday (January 13).
Network Rail built the £3m bridge last summer following three fatalities at the crossing over the years, along with 22 near-misses with trains, nine reports of misuse and 18 acts of vandalism.
Network Rail has described the crossing as ‘one of the highest-risk pedestrian crossings on the Network Rail Sussex route’.
The company cited its location providing access to three schools, Fishbourne and the Tesco superstore and estimated it was used by around 2,000 pedestrians every day.
The crossing is equipped with stop/go lights and an alarm when there is an approaching train.
Network Rail said as the crossing was on a corner, pedestrians could not rely on line of sight to cross the line.
However, the company said on too many occasions, pedestrians and cyclists disregard the warnings, which led to near-misses between them and approaching trains.
It was always intended the crossing would be permanently closed, but the process of seeking this through a magistrates’ court is still ongoing.
Schools in the area and residents have been notified of the closure.
Anyone with any concerns or questions should contact Network Rail on 08457 114141 or visit www.networkrail.co.uk/contactus