A PLAN to close a rail crossing on the Weymouth to Waterloo line near Winfrith technology park is likely to continue – despite a formal objection.

Another crossing, nearby at East Burton, will be decided by the Secretary of State.

The Open Spaces Society have objected to an order to close the crossing which lies on public footpath 18 at Hyford, close to the back of the Winfrith technology centre, between East Burton and Moreton, just off Moreton Common Road.

A decision to close the crossing was made in December by the county council’s regulatory committee and orders to close it published at the end of March.

Network Rail say the crossing is potentially dangerous with trains in both direction able to run at up to 85mph on the section.

The only formal objection came from the Open Spaces Society with the nearest neighbour supporting the move to close the crossing. Because of that objection the county council is not able to make the order itself and has to pass the decision to the Secretary of State.

In its submission the Open Spaces Society’s local representative Ralph Holmes says: “The Society believes the sight lines at the level crossing are good, but the installation of whistle boards to ensure all trains sound their horns would give extra safety. The main danger at the moment is the step up onto the line both sides of the track.

"On a recent site visit I tripped on this and fell on the line. It would be an easy and cheap task to rectify this with a slope or a further step. It is no reason for closing the level crossing, but urgent action is needed by Network Rail to deal with this problem.

“Network Rail claim that only one person a day uses the crossing. We know of one person who uses the crossing almost daily and would be surprised if no one else virtually ever does so. There is quite a lot of evidence that in the case of nearby footpath 14 in Wool, Network Rail appear to have underestimated usage considerably. In any event usage could increase considerably with the redevelopment of the adjoining technology park if a suitable exit is provided.”

County councillors will be told on August 16 that because of the single objection there may have to be a public inquiry, either a full hearing, or by written representations. Attempts to persuade the Society to withdraw the objection failed despite a meeting on the site with representatives from both the county council and Network Rail.

Network Rail say that because trains sometimes pass each other at the crossing the risk of an accident is increased with the company claiming that using horns each time a train approached the crossing would result in neighbours being disturbed 136 times in an 18-hour day with no guarantee that people trying to cross would hear as they often listen to music or are talking on their mobile phones.

Network Rail say the step at the crossing which Mr Holmes complains of complies with all safety standards.

Councillors at the August 16th regulatory committee are being recommended to maintain their support for the order to close the crossing because of the risk to those using it.

There is an alternative crossing 400 yards away at Soldier’s Bridge.

Options such as a tunnel, bridge or miniature stop lights have all be examined as an alternative, and rejected.

  • The same committee is being recommended to ask the Secretary of State to close a nearby crossing, on Footpath 14, at East Burton. Four objections were received to a closure order, including from the Ramblers Association. Each deny that the crossing is as dangerous as Network Rail claim pointing out the the site does not have any recorded accidents. The Open Spaces Society and the Ramblers say Network Rail could easily improve safety at the crossing which, surveys showed, is only used by 4-8 people a day.