• Major safety upgrade for the region's most misused level crossing 
  • Vital work will combat drivers jumping the lights and swerving the barriers
  • Speed restriction imposed to stop a collision is now set to be lifted, so trains can travel at full speed again after six years
  • Residents warned of two closures in November and January so the work can be completed

A major upgrade to one of the region’s most misused level crossings is set to benefit motorists, pedestrians and passengers.

The vital improvements in Yapton will reduce the risks posed by dangerous drivers, while also allowing Network Rail to bring an end to a six-year-long safety speed restriction, meaning trains can travel at full speed again.

John Halsall, Network Rail’s managing director in the South East, said: “Yapton is one of the most misused crossings in the south east, with drivers either ignoring or trying to beat the red lights, queuing over the crossing or swerving around the barriers as trains approach.

“This behaviour meant we had to impose a speed restriction in 2012 to reduce the risk of a collision between a train and a vehicle.

“This work will significantly reduce the risks posed by dangerous drivers, so we can lift the speed restriction and allow trains to run at full speed again, improving punctuality and reducing delays.”

Red light enforcement cameras were installed in 2017 resulting in hundreds of motorists being prosecuted for dangerous driving. However, an average of 3.7 incidents still occur each day – leading Network Rail to bring forward the crossing upgrade, which would have been required by 2025 as a result of local population and traffic growth.

It means Yapton level crossing, which is used by 8,000 vehicles and 300 trains every weekday, will be upgraded from its current automatic half-barrier system to a full-barrier crossing, controlled by CCTV.

Residents and passengers are being reminded to plan ahead as Network Rail engineers will need to close the crossing on Sunday, 18 November, and for 10 days in January 2019.

The crossing will be closed from 00:40am on Sunday, 18 November, to 04:00am on Monday, 19 November. During these periods no trains will run between Arundel/Angmering in the east and Barnham in the west. Bus replacement services will operate between these destinations calling intermediately at Littlehampton and Ford.

A full road closure is also required from 4 January until 14 January 2019 to complete the work. No trains will run from Saturday, 12 January, to Monday, 14 January. Diversionary routes will be in place, with further details available closer to the time.

This work is part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a safer, more reliable railway for passengers in Sussex.

John Halsall added: “A full barrier crossing means that the barriers will be down for longer because of the way the technology works.

“I know this won’t be popular with some people but it will help keep rail passengers, pedestrians and motorists safe.”