UTTOXETER'S railway crossing has been named as the second most at risk of accidents in the Midlands, it has been revealed.
The town’s MP Andrew Griffiths revealed the shocking news after a meeting with representatives of Network Rail where he was told that although Branston, in Burton, was the crossing most at risk, Uttoxeter Railway Station was just behind it.
Network Rail has also confirmed the announcement, saying the crossing was ranked as the second highest risk for misuse on the East Midlands route, partly owing to the very high numbers of pedestrian users on race days.
Mr Griffiths said: “I met with Network Rail representatives particularly about the rail crossing at Branston but what they shared with me was the studies they have done about the potential dangers of the West Midlands rail service and I am really surprised to see that number one was Branston and number two was Uttoxeter.
“Network Rail has genuine concerns about the ongoing safety of people crossing the line at Uttoxeter.
“With that in mind there are plans to invest a substantial amount of money in providing a bridge which should overcome this problem and keep visitors safe.” Network Rail said it was difficult to give figures on the number of near accidents at Uttoxeter as near misses are notoriously unreported, so the data for the station appears to be low.
A spokesman said: “There is potential for a train to be hidden by another one in the station. Line speed through the station is only 30mph, and all passenger trains stop, however there are the occasional freight and light engine movements on the route which do not.” To overcome these dangers, the proposed solution is to close both the station and the racecourse level crossing to pedestrians and construct a new footbridge with ramps and stairs.
Currently, the crossing is being manned at both sides on race days while the designs are being progressed.
The spokesman added: “A meeting was held in early September with the racecourse owners to discuss the plans, crossing closure, access rights and land ownership. We are now in the process of working through these issues with an aim to starting construction of the new bridge early in 2013.” David MacDonald, executive director at Uttoxeter Racecourse, said they worked closely with all interested parties to ensure the safety of visitors to the racecourse.
He said: “On race days we pay for two Network Rail employees on our crossing to ensure the safety of our customers arriving by train or crossing over from our car park.
“On Midlands Grand National Day we work closely with both East Midlands Trains, British Transport Police and Uttoxeter Police to make sure that the day runs safely.” Uttoxeter mayor Martin Blencowe welcomed the news that a footbridge would soon be introduced at the station.
He said: “I am delighted it has now been granted a footbridge and it would be good to see the work start soon.”