Angry residents call for action over notorious Doncaster railway crossing

Angry residents are demanding action over a notorious Doncaster level crossing they say is trapping drivers for up to 45 minutes at a time.

By Darren Burke
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 9:46 am

Arksey Crossing between Bentley and Arksey has long been a headache for drivers, with motorists regular facing lengthy delays waiting for trains to pass.

But fed-up residents have said they fear that the endless barrier closures are putting elderly people in Arksey at risk – with fears that someone could die if emergency vehicles aren’t able to get across the crossing which is used by dozens of trains each day.

One angry resident said: “It’s every single day we can’t get out or in.

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Arksey level crossing.

"We have a large community of elderly and we are massively concerned that should they need help in any way, emergency services will not be able to get through."

And resisdents say concerns are being ignored by crossing operator Network Rail.

The woman fumed: “They do not care that they are putting lives at risk. The longest I have experienced trying to cross the lines was 45 minutes back in December.

"How can this not cause worry for our residents?

“The barriers remain down for ages, with only one train passing. Last week the the lights were flashing and the barrier did not even come down at all.

"The driver had to get out to check if it was safe to cross. It is dangerous at every level,”

“No one is listening to us.

"This is a village that has been ignored for so long.

"We have elderly and vulnerable people here. How is 20, 30 or 45 minutes with barriers down and only one to two trains passing acceptable?

“Any of us could need the emergency services.

"But this is also causing disruption to life itself – school kids being late for school and workers late for work.

"Many of us work at the hospital and have been late, this knock on effect has repercussions.

"If a nurse is late for work then patients are at risk. No one cares at all.”

Residents have been sent letters from Network Rail calling the concerns ‘understandable’ – but said there were no plans to close or alter the crossing.

In a letter seen by the Free Press, a spokemsan said: “Whilst we are sorry for the inconvenience caused to you please be aware that delays to road traffic are unavoidable.

"Level crossings are the legacy of how railways were built in the past.

"At that time, there was less traffic on the roads and there were fewer, slower trains.

"The increase in passenger and freight traffic over the past 20 years has seen an inevitable rise in delays at level crossings. Today, when we build new railways, we will build bridges or underpasses to avoid road-rail interface.

"Safety is our number one priority and all level crossings have a set of strict operating regulations to keep the travelling public safe.

"The ‘order’ is made by the Office of Rail and Road who is the safety executive for the railway and sets out the timings for when level crossing barriers are lowered.

"The timings are calculated on a number of factors for example, line speed and related stopping distances. The barriers will remain lowered until it is entirely safe to cross.

"If there are lots of trains, it follows that the barriers will be down for longer periods. Barriers can only be lifted once a train has fully left the level crossing ‘block’.

"This block is effectively how the train communicates with the crossing to announce its arrival and departure to its proximity. This means that the barriers will remain lowered until such time as the train clears the level crossing section.

"Although we recognise that this can inconvenience road users, we are obliged to run a safe, reliable and punctual railway for the British public. As I said, we are sorry for this but please rest assured that this is not a decision taken lightly.

"Please be aware that we do not hold plans to close this particular level crossing.

"As such, you may wish to contact your local highway authority about the prospect of funding a new bridge or underpass as an alternative.

"It is possible that the highway authority may be able to acquire funding for a transport scheme to address this situation.

"That being said, the cost of alternatives such as bridges and underpasses can be upwards of a million pounds. As such and in the current economic climate the likelihood of either being chosen to replace a crossing is very small.”