CONTROVERSIAL plans to either modify or close down nearly a dozen rail crossings throughout north Essex’s railway network have been given the greenlight.

Network Rail now has the power to carry out works on railway crossings in Stanway, Feering, Marks Tey, Great Bentley, Frinton, Wrabness and Ardleigh.

These include Snivillers, Hill House 1, Great Domsey, Long Green, Church 2, Great Bentley station, Lords No1, Bluehouse Wheatsheaf and Abbotts.

Permission to make the alterations, which will see some of the crossings shut down for good, has been granted by secretary of state Grant Shapps.

It comes five years after the train company first submitted the plans to Downing Street in a move which ultimately did not go down well with travellers and residents.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Despite their concerns, however, Network Rail will now go full steam ahead with the changes, which transport bosses believe will create “a safer, more reliable railway.”

Once the crossings are closed, alternative routes will be put in place or, where that is not possible, new public routes will be provided.

Ellie Burrows, Anglia route director at Network Rail, said: “Improving safety on the railway continues to be my top priority.

“The powers we have been granted to close or modify 37 level crossings is a major step forward to achieving this.  

“We will begin to remove some of these crossings immediately while others will need more time to provide a suitable diversion route before we close the crossing.  

“I want to thank everyone who has been involved and taken the time to provide views and feedback on our proposals through the public consultation.”

Tendring Council leader Neil Stock OBE, who is also the ward councillor for Ardleigh, said he would like to see no level crossings in the UK - but only alternative routes are adequate.

He said: “If Network Rail are going to change and pay for the road layouts to be changed if they close the crossings then I fully support it.

“But they cannot just say they are going to be closing the level crossings without coming up with or offering a proper solution.

“Overall, far more people travel on roads than they do on trains and so Network Rail has a responsibility for the impact their railway lines have on the rest of civilisation

“I personally do not think there should be any level crossings and that is something we need to move to in this country but only if the infrastructure is in place.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Colchester Council leader David King echoed the views of his political counterpart.

He said: "Level crossings sadly have not always been safe, so action, however slow, is to be welcomed where it helps reduce the risk of accident and loss of life. 

"But we need Network Rail to explain and defend and to make sure that each decision is balanced against the inconvenience and disruption caused. 

"And that reasonable alternative routes are available."

Residents have also reacted to the news of the closures.

Noey Arppton, who is particularly concerned over the impending doom of the Great Bentley crossing, said: "That is a major route.

"Not only that, a new housing development is just going up - how are these residents going to access the major roads?"

Riccardo Godfrey-Bonnici, on the other hand, simply described the plans as "absolutely bonkers."

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