Traders hit by railway misery in Spalding

More than 40 pedestrians and drivers found themselves stuck behind railway barriers at Winsover Road level crossing, Spalding, on Good Friday.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
More than 40 pedestrians and drivers found themselves stuck behind railway barriers at Winsover Road level crossing, Spalding, on Good Friday. Photo by Tim Wilson.

A senior railway official has branded level crossing problems that have caused a “big drop” in Easter trade for Spalding retailers as “unacceptable”.

Gary Walsh, area director for Network Rail, pledged that efforts were ongoing to fix two “known issues” which caused railway barriers to be stuck down at four level crossings in Spalding last week.

The delays being caused by the technological failures at these level crossings are unacceptable and my team are working tirelessly to get them working reliably as quickly as possible

Gary Walsh, area director for Network Rail

Barriers at Winsover Road were down for about five hours on Good Friday, while London Road (The Raceground), Park Road and Mill Green (Woolram Wygate) level crossings were stuck down for more than two hours last Tuesday.

But the impact of the level crossing failures not only led to traffic jams around Spalding – together with gas pipe renewal work by National Grid in Haverfield Road and London Road, it has hit traders at a time when UK shoppers were expected to spend about £775 million.

Spalding town centre manager Dennis Hannant said: “I know, from talking with local retailers, that the traffic congestion and parking restrictions in The Crescent area of town, because of the (National Grid) roadworks, has caused a big drop in footfall and consequently sales. When you consider that Easter is normally the second busiest time of the year for retailers after Christmas, this will be a huge blow for many of them.”

Mr Walsh said: “The delays being caused by the technological failures at these level crossings are unacceptable and my team are working tirelessly with our suppliers to get them working reliably at all times as quickly as possible.

“There are two known issues and a programme of repairs is due to start next week to address one of them, while we continue to work to find a long-term fix for the other problem as quickly as possible.

“I know that waiting at level crossings can be frustrating and I am sorry for the delays.

“But I must remind people that the barriers come down, whenever there is a problem, to keep everyone safe and I would ask them to please resist the temptation to cross the lines unless the level crossing or a Network Rail attendant says it is safe to do so.”

Meanwhile, South Holland District Council’s portfolio holder for community development, Coun Gary Taylor, said: “The delays regarding the signalling issues are creating major problems for residents and drivers.

“I can’t speak for businesses but if their trade is affected, I would like this to be addressed by Network Rail.”

Bad Friday sees Spalding come to a standstill