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New action group calling for safety measures after Wem level crossing failure

North Shropshire | News | Published:

Angry residents have set up an action group calling for safety measures at a busy level crossing after the latest problem of the barriers failing to close sparked fresh concerns.

The automated safety barriers failed to close at the level crossing in Aston Street, Wem, on Sunday despite flashing lights warning of an approaching train.

Network Rail said the barriers did not go down because of a temporary road diversion sign causing an obstruction and the train went through at a reduced speed.

More than 200 people have now joined the Wem Train Station Safer group which is calling for new safety measures at the crossing.

An online petition has also been set up by Sarah Sumner calling for improved safety at the crossing which has already been signed by more than 70 people.

The e-petition has been set up in a bid to force a parliamentary debate into the problems.

Julie Hoffman, who lives opposite the crossing, said she had mounting concerns over its safety.

She said: "It is disgraceful what is happening at the crossing.

"I hope this latest incident causes everyone to kick up and get something done.

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"It is a bad accident waiting to happen.

"I hope as many people as possible sign the petition.

"The crossing is not fit for purpose and is a disaster waiting to happen.

"We should all get together now and say enough is enough."

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It is the latest problem at the level crossing which has been mired in controversy since it became automated in October 2013, regularly causing traffic tailbacks.

In January, the barriers failed to shut despite flashing lights warning of an approaching train.

When the fault was recognised, Network Rail said the barriers did close over the tracks – but remained shut for more than an hour, causing long tailbacks on either side of the crossing.

Last May, a signal fault caused the crossing to slam shut for three hours, causing massive tailbacks for motorists, including an ambulance.

Wem Town Council is currently in the process of organising a meeting with Network Rail officials.

Councillor Mandy Meakin, town mayor, said: "We are in talks with arranging a meeting with Network Rail.

"I am cross because this has been going on for 18 months now.

"We were in talks with Network Rail before the barrier was automated and they promised there would be no problems and it would be a seamless transition."

Wem town councillor Pauline Dee added: "Network Rail has got to take us seriously now because it is such a worry.

"We are very concerned. We need something doing and something soon."

Sunday's incident was witnessed by Wem resident Ruth Golding, who said: "I live close to the train tracks and was going over the crossing to pick up my friend from the station.

"When I got there the train was already going through but the barriers had not been lowered – the red warning lights were flashing.

"It was quite frightening as anybody could have gone through as the barriers were not down. Something needs to be done to stop this happening."

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