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Spalding gridlock fears over freight train plans

Was it a taste of things to come? SG020614-204TW
Was it a taste of things to come? SG020614-204TW

Spalding’s level crossings could halt road traffic for 24 minutes in every hour once work is completed on a freight train “underpass” at Werrington.

Campaigners from Spalding and Peterborough Transport Forum say work on ‘Werrington Grade Separation’ could start later this year, and open by 2020.

Cars queing at Tallington level crossing.'Photo: SM160311-025ow.jpg
Cars queing at Tallington level crossing.'Photo: SM160311-025ow.jpg

Forum chairman George Scott said: “We reckon the railway crossing barriers are going to be down 24 minutes in every hour, and don’t forget that’s going through the night as well. It’s going to be Tallington again.”

Massive queues build up at the notorious Tallington crossing, on the A1175 midway between Market Deeping and Stamford, with drivers fuming about waits of up to 20 minutes.

Spalding motorists had a taste of massive delays through 2016 when a series of level crossing faults gridlocked the town.

The Werrington project will switch freight trains to a two-track railway line going under the East Coast Main Line, and forum member Ivan Hammond said: “When it’s open, there will be more level crossing closures for you in Spalding.”

South Holland District Council (SHDC) chiefs believe bridges planned to go over the line as part of the Spalding Western Relief Road (SWRR) will save the day as they believe Werrington Grade Separation is unlikely to be completed before 2024 at the earliest.

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The northern section of the relief road joins withEnterprise Way, off Pinchbeck Road, where there will be a nearby bridge crossing over the railway.

The southern end bridge is likely to be off Spalding Common.

SHDC’s manager of place, Paul Jackson, said: “The council, conscious of the anticipated works to upgrade the mainline and the potential impacts on the wider town, have been undertaking extensive works on seeking to deliver the SWRR.

“Whilst a completion date for the whole route cannot presently be confirmed, significant funding streams are in place to deliver both the southern and northern ends.

“Working in direct partnership with key partners, these including Lincolnshire County Council andlocal developers, it is likely that planning applications for the northern and southern sections to the SWRR will be submitted towards the end of this year.

“Once consents are in place, and contractorsappointed, work on these key sections of highways infrastructure is likely to commence on site in early 2020 with a view to completing these works towards the end of 2022 or very early 2023.

“Both the northern and southern sections to the SWRR incorporate a roundabout leading to an overbridge spanning the mainline.

Completion of the southern section, and the provision of a link through Broadgate Homes Holland Park site, will provide significant relief to traffic movements within Spalding by providing an alternative route for traffic to the south.”

Council deputy leader Nick Worth understands there’s already been “a significant increase” in rail freight traffic through Spalding, which has been diverted from the East Coast Main Line, but most of it comes through at night.

Coun Worth says line improvements mean the trains can travel faster, so crossings aren’t closed for so long.

He said: “My understanding is that Werrington is unlikely to be completed before 2024 at the earliest because I think Network Rail has got to find some funding and that gives us time to actually negotiate with Network Rail.”

Coun Worth also believes the line here is pretty much at capacity already with existing trains because the level crossings are “slowing them up”.

Network Rail has unveiled a £47billion programme for 2019-2024 with £36.9million earmarked for Skegness to Grantham; £453.1million for Peterborough to King’s Cross and £58.8million for Peterborough to Doncaster.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “There was recently a public inquiry in regards to the Werrington Grade Separation project.

“The scheme will increase capacity on the East Coast Main Line.

“The scheme has now been passed to the Secretary of State for Transport and we await their decision as to whether or not the scheme can proceed.

“We have been in constant dialogue with members of the local community, stakeholders and industry partners for the last five years. Network Rail are currently carrying out surveys in the area.”

• What do you think? Email letters to the editor: jeremy.ransome@iliffepublishing.co.uk

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