Spalding can expect weeks of misery as town centre level crossings are closed for two weeks as part of a £280million upgrade to the railway line.
The Great Northern Great Eastern project, which will see more than 45 miles of track replaced on an 86-mile stretch between Peterborough and Doncaster, will bring the line into the 21st century and “future-proof” it for years to come.
But during a presentation to Spalding Town Forum last week, representatives of the Network Rail project admitted the town faced a “nightmare” while the work was completed.
Project service manager Jamie Cooper told members that all of the level crossings would need to be closed for two weeks each while the commissioning work to test the route was completed.
He said: “Spalding is one of the biggest sections of the programme and it is going to be a nightmare.
“We know that so we want to work with councils and highways to get to a solution of how best to do the work to fit with the town around it.”
He said he and his team would be returning several times between now and next February when a definitive plan would be drawn up for the closures around Easter.
Mr Cooper said he knew Winsover Road closure would cause some particularly serious problems based on what workers had already encountered during the overnight closures.
He said they had witnessed motorists trying to drive through barriers and staff had been abused by people who found themselves unable to cross.
He said: “From that we know we are going to have trouble going forward.
“But we have got to do the work, it’s just a question of how we do it.”
Another member of the project team said: “We know realistically we can’t close all of the crossings at once so we are looking at it now to see what will cause the least disruption.”
Members of the town forum raised immediate concerns about the town being split in two and suggested only one out of Winsover Road, Hawthorn Bank and Park Road crossings could be closed at once.
There was also concern for pedestrians and cyclists, who would face long detours to cross the railway line during closures.
Mr Cooper reassured members that provision would be made, which could include shuttle buses.