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Level Crossings: Frinton-on-Sea

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 13 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what consideration of safety factors there will be before a decision is reached on the future of the manned railway crossing at Frinton-on-Sea; (163489)

(2) what assessment she has made of the effect of changing from a manned railway crossing to an unmanned railway crossing in Frinton-on-Sea on safety; and what the evidential basis is for her assessment.

The Office of Rail Regulation’s (ORR) HM Railway Inspectorate (HMRI) is currently assessing Network Rail’s proposal to modernise Frinton-on-Sea crossing. As required by the Level Crossings Act 1983, ORR’s consideration of the safety factors at level crossings must take into account the “safety and convenience of all users at or near the level crossing”.

At present, ORR’s view is that Network Rail’s plans to modernise the crossing are acceptable, subject to continuing discussion and agreement as the scheme progresses. ORR plans to meet local people on Friday 16 November to discuss their representations. Essex county council has given approval in principle for the highway element of the crossing modernisation.

The existing arrangements at the level crossing are unsuitable to deal with the current volume of road traffic and rail traffic. The planned modernisation will reduce risks to all crossing users, particularly those from the local community who have disabilities. It will also reduce risks to Network Rail’s own staff—the current level crossing arrangements pose a significant risk to the safety of the crossing keeper.

Under Network Rail’s planned proposals the crossing will be monitored at all times by the railway signaller from the signal box using closed circuit television. This is a common method of operation on level crossing across Britain’s mainline railway network. These types of automatic barrier level crossings which are locally monitored have a very good safety record.