The Anonymous Widower

Two Solutions To Make Crossing A Railway Safe

On the way to football tonight in Ipswich, I went to have a drink with a friend, who lives near Thurston station on the Ipswich to Ely Line, where there is a good real ale and cyder pub. Crossing the tracks at Thurston is via a simple walk across controlled by traffic lights between the two platforms.

Of all the stations I use regularly, this is the only place where such a system is in use. Unless of course you count the trams at Ampere Road by the Croydon Ikea. A few hundred metres to the west of the station a bridle way and cycle path crosses the railway and Network Rail have built this bridge.

There have been reports like this one in the East Anglian Daily Times, which has a headline of Poll: £1.5m ‘monster’ railway bridge at Thurston is dubbed a ‘total waste of money’

This bridge is an interesting case of what to do where there are gated crossings of railway lines.

I think before being too critical of Network Rail we should bare these points in mind.

1. Suicide

This article on the BBC web site talks of a death at a crossing in the Thurston area.  Network Rail get far too many deaths on the railway and it is a sad fact, that stepping in front of a train, is a common method of suicide.

2. The East-West Rail Link

The East-West Rail Link will use this line to get from Ipswich and Felixstowe to Cambridge and Ely. This link will be an electrified 100 mph railway that will run trains between East Anglia and the Midlands and the West. So although the line carries perhaps a couple of trains every hour each way, in perhaps ten years time, this will probably be a few times more. And as the line is pretty straight as the pictures show, the operating speed could be a lot higher.

3, Horses

If you read all the comments about the bridge no-one mentions taking a horse over the railway.

Horses are flight animals and if spooked will run fast away from the perceived danger.

Many horses too, don’t like going under high-voltage cables. Whether it is because they can sense the magnetic field generated by the electricity or they don’t like the whistling sound,I don’t know. But if the crossing is going to be used by horses, it will have to be of the size it has been built.

I’m not sure, but I think this is the only way to get a horse from one side of the railway to the other, unless you go all the way and go under the bridge by Thurston station.

4. Getting The Design Right

This bridge illustrates that getting the design right and satisfying all users and critics who never use the bridge is an almost impossible task.

Aesthetically, I don’t like the bridge, but unless they dig a subway under the railway, there is nothing else that can be done to satisfy all users and critics of the design.

Note that when the railway is upgraded to be part of the East-West Rail Link, Thurston station will have to be rebuilt and I suspect it will have a bridge over the railway, probably with lifts and a price tag well upwards of £2million.

There will be some serious discussions.

August 11, 2015 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] I do wonder whether some branches like the short one to Walton-on-the Naze could be run to tram rules using on-board energy storage. It might enable stations to be built step-free without electrification, lifts and bridges. I wrote about Thurston station, where they have a walk across with lights in Two Solutions To Make Crossing A Railway Safe. […]

    Pingback by A First Visit To Clacton « The Anonymous Widower | July 16, 2016 | Reply


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