MP for North East Hampshire Ranil Jayawardena has launched a petition calling for a footbridge over Bramley level crossing to improve safety and air quality in the area.
Mr Jayawardena, a former ward councillor for Bramley, said the crossing was a danger to pedestrians both from the risk of accidents and the toxic fumes produced by diesel trains and idling vehicles.
“The pedestrian route across the level crossing at Bramley has long been dangerous at worst – and an annoyance at best – and it is time for a footbridge to be constructed, like those at Mortimer and Hook.
“This is not only to avoid a recurrence of the tragic accidents and near-misses we have seen over the years. More than 200 sooty diesel trains – passenger and freight – pass through Bramley every day. Together with the fumes from idling vehicles, this creates a miasma of toxic air, which pedestrians are forced to breathe as they wait for the train to pass. A footbridge would get them over and away as quickly as possible.
“I have been pressing Network Rail and our local councils for several years to make this happen – but I need your help. Please sign and share my petition and show them how important this is to our community.”
The barriers at the crossing are lowered for at least 20 minutes of each hour, often to allow several trains to pass, leading some residents to force their way through or jump the barriers. In 2016, Network Rail reclassified the level crossing as a ‘category one risk’, reflecting the heightened risk of somebody being injured or killed, and opened a consultation on its closure by 2019. Mr Jayawardena has also campaigned for the rail line to be electrified.
Hayley Eachus, Cabinet member for the environment at Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council, added: “The Council has always taken air quality very seriously and has monitored it for many years. We have recently launched an initiative to raise awareness of the ways in which everyone can do their bit to maintain good air quality in the Borough, but diesel trains create problems too.
“I met with Ranil at Bramley level crossing and was shocked to find that cars are routinely idling for 10 minutes or longer while trains pass through. But we cannot reduce the amount of train traffic and we cannot close the level crossing without splitting the village in two, which is why we are encouraging residents help clear the air and switch off their engines while waiting.
“It is certainly worth looking at ways we can gets pedestrians away from the crossing quicker too, and this includes consideration of a footbridge over the railway line.”
County Councillor Rhydian Vaughan MBE added:
“Air quality is an issue, and everyone is affected, so we all need to do our bit. That’s why we put up signs asking people to switch off their engines when stationary, as some of the worst pollution comes from idling vehicles. A footbridge would improve the situation further.”
You can sign the petition here.