Faulty barriers were down yet again at level crossings in Spalding last week – but this time the Free Press told Network Rail another “sorry” would not be good enough for the residents held up by them.
Police were brought in early on Thursday morning to tape off the level crossings in Park Road and Mill Green after reports pedestrians were still trying to get through.
A spokesman for SiemensWhilst on each occasion the fail-safe nature of the equipment has operated correctly, as with all of our work, throughout this process the continued safety of rail passengers and the general public remains our number one priority
The barriers went down for two hours just after 6am in spite of there being no trains approaching, hitting people trying to get to work and the start of the school run.
After months of problems along the line, Network Rail is once again apologetic but still unable to say why the equipment keeps failing, so we contacted the company who installed it, Siemens.
A spokesman told us delivery and engineering teams were “working tirelessly to identify and implement a safe, effective, long-term solution”.
In the meantime, concern is mounting not only for the safety of people who might try to get through the barriers, but also that many could be put off visiting the town.
Coun George Aley, chairman of Spalding Town Forum, said: “We don’t want Spalding to become a ‘no go area’ and for it to start hitting trade.”
Readers have suggested the problems would not have happened if signal boxes and signalmen had not been replaced by technology. Phil Cole said: “It’s a real shame and the plague of issues with the gates getting ‘stuck’ closed since the signalmen have gone would suggest a real retrograde step too.”
The Great Northern Great Eastern (GNGE) project, which has seen the removal of signal boxes, was one of Britain’s most technically complex projects of recent years. Transforming 86 miles of restricted rural railway between Doncaster and Peterborough, the work included the renewal of 92 level crossings – the largest such programme ever undertaken at one time.
Network Rail has thanked residents for their “patience” over recent weeks.
A spokesman said: “We would like to thank the communities impacted for their patience and remind the public that although waiting at the crossing can be frustrating, it is vital that they do not attempt to cross the barriers when they are closed.”
Siemens concluded: “Whilst on each occasion the fail-safe nature of the equipment has operated correctly, as with all our work, throughout this process the continued safety of rail passengers and the general public remains our number one priority.”