Shropshire village's joy as level crossing stays open
A level crossing at the heart of picturesque Shropshire village will not be closed, rail bosses have confirmed, following an outcry by residents that it would cut a community in two.
Campaigners in and around the village of Ashford Bowdler are celebrating as Network rail announced it will not push ahead with proposals to close the crossing - which would have left 12 houses and a church cut off from eight houses on the other side.
The decision follows a tense wait for villagers after a public meeting earlier this month saw about 60 angry residents unanimously tell Network Rail representatives that they wanted to keep the crossing open - and a threat from Philip Dunne MP to take the matter to the Secretary of State if the rail firm went against the villagers' wishes.
Network Rail's preferred plan was to close the crossing to road traffic, cutting off more than half of the cul-de-sac road that runs through the village. The firm were then proposing to build a new road linking the cut-off part to main roads around the village - but meaning a round trip of a mile and a half to get from one side to the other.
Now, Christine Booth, operations risk advisor for Network Rail, said that would not be happening.
She said the residents had made it clear at the meeting at the start of January that they wanted to keep the level crossing, and wanted it to be upgraded with new safety technology such as CCTV cameras or radar instead.
An upgrade would now be going ahead, she said, which will see the current half barriers replaced by full barriers.
She said: "It's really important that the community have their say on the options and we will always take their views on board.
"After meeting with the community in Ashford Bowdler, we have decided upgrading the crossing is the best option to balance the need of improving safety with the concerns of local residents if the crossing was downgraded or closed."
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