Network Rail deny unsafe practices on underpass construction in Doncaster

Network Rail has denied unsafe working conditions on the construction of a rail underpass in Doncaster during the coronavirus lockdown – but has apologised for clogging up pavements with its vans.

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 2:12 pm
Updated Monday, 20th April 2020, 2:21 pm

Residents and councillors complained work on an underpass from Kelsey Gardens in Bessacarr connecting to the new Manor Farm estate should not be taking place during the global pandemic.

Some said workers were not abiding by social distancing practices, but Network Rail, which manages Britain’s railway infrastructure, denied this and said staff were ‘following Government guidance’ during the construction phase.

The underpass has been a bone of contention in the community, with residents taking issue that the project has taken so long to get off the ground.

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Coun Nick Allen, Doncaster Council member for Bessacarr, said the parking situation has caused ‘huge inconvenience’ for residents and questioned the need for the work to take place during the crisis.

He said it ‘isn’t right’ the work could take place ‘without proper oversight from the council’.

Drone footage shows a number of workers on the line during the construction which Network Rail said took place over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, because it would cause ‘the least amount of disruption to passengers’.

Coun Allen said: “My main concern is how safely this work can be carried out under the present circumstances.

“I know there are issues with parking too and this has caused huge inconvenience to local people presently following government guidance by stopping at home.

“It isn’t right that Network Rail seems to be able to do all this without proper oversight from the council.“

Paul McKeown, for Network Rail, said: “Following Government advice that construction work, including work on the railway, should continue as long as safe procedures are followed, we are taking all necessary precautions to keep our colleagues safe and the railway running.

“The work which took place at Bessacarr in Doncaster over the weekend was vital to improve railway safety in the area.

“We put in place additional measures, such as retiming the work to take place over a longer period so the work could be carried out in line with social distancing measures.

“We also made additional welfare units and washing stations available."

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