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Trains bringing Spalding to a standstill

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Spalding town centre is being brought to a standstill by more than 90 freight and passenger services each week.

Network Rail has revealed that 62 freight trains are scheduled to go through Spalding during weekdays with a further 41 planned for Saturdays - on top of the 28 passenger services.

Royals Taxis owner, Mroof Choudry, has lost 50% of fares due to the services and traffic congestion.

Traffic hold ups in Spalding
Traffic hold ups in Spalding

Coun Roger Gambba-Jones feels that Network Rail should help lobby for cash to finish Spalding’s Western Relief Road.

Mr Choudry say drivers are unable to reach customers due to the traffic queues which has resulted in a loss of 50% in fares between 7-9am and 2-4pm.

He said: “It can take 20 minutes to get from Winsover Road to Bourne Road due to the traffic.

Mroof Choudry has spoken out about the rail problems
Mroof Choudry has spoken out about the rail problems

“This town needs to be sorted. With a bigger station you have people coming in to support local businesses like restaurants and shops. This is a very small train station and everything is going through and not giving us anything back.”

Network Rail has spent £1.2billion on the East Coast Upgrade, including £200million on the Werrington Tunnel to ensure passenger trains are not disrupted by freight.

The schedule given to us by Network Rail has shown the maximum number of freight trains planned to run between midnight and 11.59pm.

Busy freight periods are 5am-5.59am when six are planned with 5.5 programmed for 8am-8.59am. A further five are planned at 12pm-12.59pm, four at 3pm-3.59pm and four at 6pm-6.59pm.

Coun Gary Porter, leader of South Holland District Council. Photo supplied by House of Lords Press Office. (56655270)
Coun Gary Porter, leader of South Holland District Council. Photo supplied by House of Lords Press Office. (56655270)

Coun Roger Gambba-Jones says the schedule ‘puts into prospective the issues we are dealing with’.

He said the railway is having a ‘significant and unacceptable’ impact on Spalding and is calling on Network Rail to support lobbying.

Coun Gambba-Jones said:”The Spalding Western Relief Road, as imperfect as people see it, is a solution and the only solution we have.

Roger Gambba-Jones (56655280)
Roger Gambba-Jones (56655280)

“Network Rail has to join our campaign to get our road built much sooner than we anticipate on the current schedule because at the moment we don’t have an end date.”

The county says the north section is fully funded while it has allocated money for the south but there is nothing for the middle stretch.

Coun Richard Davies, executive councillor for Highways, said: “Hopefully government recognise that Lincolnshire and other rural counties play an equally important role within the UK and deserve a fairer share of funding for roads and other essential services.

“We’re mindful of the issues that level crossings cause to traffic flow, so we work closely with the districts and Network Rail in trying to minimise these impacts and improve flows.

“However, to remove a level crossing entirely would require either the rail line to be closed or the road to be diverted over or under the rail line. This is a very expensive process and can include a significant impact on a town like Sleaford or Spalding through the potential demolition of business and properties to achieve.”

Network Rail says Spalding lies between the significant yards at Peterborough and Doncaster.

Freight trains are given specific time slots as they need to arrive and depart yards and ports but are spread out throughout the day. Network Rail has also been looking at Spalding’s level crossings after three failures which created gridlock.

East Midlands operations director Steve Hopkinson said: “After hearing people’s concerns, we reviewed all six of Spalding’s level crossings and we were pleased to find no significant faults with our equipment.

“In fact, the amount of issues we deal with has almost halved since 2016, so we know we’re heading in the right direction but there’s still some way to go. I’d like to apologise to anybody who has been held up by our level crossings.

“We want to keep the road open for drivers as long as we safely can, while also keeping passengers and freight moving. We’re constantly monitoring our crossings and looking at ways to help them run better and to reduce the length of time the barriers are down, and we’ll continue to do this to provide the best service we can for the community.”

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