AFTER 11 years, a railway crossing where three people died is finally getting new safety measures.
A bridge over the Fishbourne Road East level crossing was approved last week.
Speaking in support of the application, Trevor Tupper, from the West Sussex Rail Passenger Association, said: “As long as that crossing is there, there will be another fatality, it is bound to happen.”
The bridge split opinion, however, with some residents welcoming its construction and others criticising the design.
Objectors said the bridge would be a ‘blot on the landscape’ and could be more unsafe than the existing crossing.
They also said it was too narrow to be safely used by both cyclists and pedestrians and the closed sides could put vulnerable people walking alone at risk.
“I recognise the importance of creating a safer, more accessible way of crossing the railway line,” said objector Ann Greenwood at the meeting.
“But this hideous bridge is not the answer and could even be more dangerous.”
She added: “This one-size-fits-all bridge is not for Chichester.”
Officers admitted it was not to a ‘gold standard’, but said it was the best compromise to make the crossing safer.
Speaking in support of the application, county councillor Louise Goldsmith said there could be as little as 15 seconds once the siren sounded to leave the crossing before the arrival of a train.
“This is the one option that will provide safety,” she said.
Ward councillor Clare Apel told members of the development control committee how her friend’s daughter witnessed the death of a 77-year-old woman on the track in 2001. Since then, two other people have died on the crossing, both recorded as suicides.
“I have a feeling that in time there will be another grisly tragedy on this crossing unless we have a safety bridge as soon as possible.”
Clive Robey, from Network Rail, said, in addition to the three deaths, there had been 200 close calls where a driver had to ‘take some kind of evasive action to stop the train if he can’. He said Network Rail would apply to close the crossing as soon as the bridge was open to all users.
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