Barrier misery in Spalding and South Holland to end at last

Traffic held up at a barrier in Spalding.

Traffic held up at a barrier in Spalding.

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An end to the disruption that has caused months of misery for pedestrians and motorists stuck at railway barriers across South Holland is in sight.

Network Rail has revealed to the Lincolnshire Free Press that they have now found the cause of the barrier failures and are putting together a schedule to make the necessary adjustments.

We are currently working on a plan to replace 300 components at 37 level crossings

Network Rail

According to Network Rail, there have been two recurring faults – one relating to condensation in the axle counters, which detect the presence of a train, and a second relating to signalling output modules, which provide power to the level crossings.

The Great Northern Great Eastern (GNGE) line upgrade, which has seen the removal of signal boxes, was one of Britain’s most technically complex projects of

recent years and cost £280million.

Transforming 86 miles of restricted rural railway between Doncaster and Peterborough to deliver more services and faster journey times, the work included the renewal of 92 level crossings – the largest such programme ever undertaken at one

time.

Now 300 counters will have to be replaced at 37 level crossings, with the ones which have failed on a regular basis taking priority.

Who will pick up the bill for replacing the faulty axle counters will depend on whether the fault lies with Network Rail or Siemens, who installed them.

It is also not known at this stage how much the work will cost.

In the meantime, Network Rail is asking motorists for their continued patience, as it is likely there will be more disruption in the short-term, from the faults on the line and when the work to fix them begins.

The Free Press understands it is unlikely rail passengers will be affected, but there could be closures at railway crossings overnight and at weekends.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We are fully aware of the unacceptable levels of disruption caused by crossing failures on the Great Northern Great Eastern (GNGE) line that runs through Spalding and would again like to apologise unreservedly for the delays and inconvenience caused when the barriers are closed to road traffic.

“Following our thorough investigation into the cause we have discovered that there are two recurring faults – one relating to axle counters, which detect the presence of a train, and a second relating to signalling output modules, which provide power to the level crossings.

“We are currently working on a plan to replace 300 components at 37 level crossings on the GNGE and although we are still in the process of drawing up a timetable to do this, we will be prioritising the crossings which have seen the highest number of failures.

“While we acknowledge that waiting at the barriers in the meantime can be frustrating, it is vitally important to remember that drivers and pedestrians should not attempt to cross the railway when the barriers are down.

“If a fault is detected the barriers ‘fail safe’ to protect the public but trains will still be running, so crossing the barriers poses a significant safety risk as well as being a criminal offence.”