Rail firm in the dock after level crossing failure angers drivers

South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter.
South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter.
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Rail bosses are under fire from drivers and politicians after further disruption caused by level crossing problems in South Holland on Friday.

Drivers had to be diverted away from Littleworth level crossing, Deeping St Nicholas, because of a system fault which meant that the barriers stayed down.

Network Rail engineers spent almost four hours trying to repair the problem which emerged shortly after 5.20am and service only got back to normal just after 9am.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “There was an issue with the signalling systems and the barriers were down in order to protect safety.

“Our team responded as quickly as possible and we apologise for the inconvenience caused to the public.”

It was the fourth time in less than two weeks that drivers faced diversions because of level crossing problems.

Mill Green level crossing in Woolram Wygate, Spalding, was affected twice on May 18 and 22, with level crossing barriers down at Park Road as well on May 18.

Coun Elizabeth Sneath, Lincolnshire County Council member for Spalding Elloe which includes Deeping St Nicholas, said: “I am very disappointed with these continued system failures that cause delay and frustration to motorists.

“Sitting at the back of a queue, you don’t know why you are held up or how long repairs will take, leading to desperate measures by irate drivers reversing to make u-turns which can be dangerous to both themselves and other road users.

“The Littleworth hold-up caused particularly bad problems with work and appointments for commuters to Peterborough and Stamford.

“Network Rail talks about technical issues and apologies, but patience is wearing very thin after these recent problems.”

The problems came after a £280 million upgrade of the Great Northern Great Eastern Line between Doncaster and Peterborough completed last November.

South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter has threatened to take up the matter with the Department for Transport if there is another problem in the area this week.

Coun Porter said: “These continuing safety failures are a matter of grave concern but we have not yet had a satisfactory response to the concerns we raised last week.

“If that is still the case by the end of this week, I will be seeking a meeting with the Department for Transport regarding road and rail passenger safety.”

Network Rail claimed the disruption was due to “equipment failures” and its spokesman said: “We have been working with our suppliers to investigate and address the root cause of the issue.”