Rail passengers, motorists and pedestrians in West Sussex can look forward to safer journeys after Network Rail finished a £4m upgrade of Yapton level crossing to combat dangerous drivers.

Upgrading from an automatic half-barrier crossing to a manually controlled full-barrier crossing, will reduce the risks posed by motorists trying to jump the lights and swerve around the closing barriers.

It will also allow Network Rail to remove a six-year-long safety speed restriction, saving the industry thousands of pounds and faster and more punctual trains for passengers.

John Halsall, Network Rail’s managing director in the South East, said:

“Our work at Yapton is a great example of how a safe railway is a performing railway. By reducing the risk of deliberate driver misuse we’ve been able to allow trains to run at their full line speed for the first time in six years, meaning faster and more reliable journeys for the 300 trains that pass through every weekday.

“I’d also like to thank residents and road users in the area for their patience and understanding while we worked to upgrade the crossing. I’m confident it is now safer for everyone, whether they are rail passengers, drivers or pedestrians.”

There was 10-day road closure while the upgrade was completed, which was lifted on time in the earlier hours of Monday, 14 January.

More than 8,000 vehicles use the crossing every day with an average of 3.7 incidents, including drivers ignoring red lights, weaving around the barriers and queueing over the crossing – despite a red light enforcement camera being installed in 2017.

This meant trains were restricted to 30mph on this stretch of track, but they can now run at the full 65mph, improving punctuality and performance on the West Coastway line.

Angie Doll, Southern and Gatwick Express passenger services director, said: “Yapton level crossing had a regular, daily impact on our passengers and we’re delighted Network Rail has completed this work.”