Network Rail is keeping Cottonmill Lane level crossing open after listening carefully to the views of more than 200 local people.

It had planned to shut the crossing because of repeated misuse – intentional and unintentional – by a number of the 800 or so people a day who use it.

But after receiving strong opposition to the closure, Network Rail has changed its plans. Its decision, however, is subject to people using the crossing safely.

Network Rail has committed to deliver a number of further safety improvements at Cottonmill Lane in 2019:

  • Straightening the crossing to remove the skewed approach;
  • Installing new fencing to turn users in each direction before crossing;
  • Renewing the crossing surface to reduce the risk of pushchairs/wheelchairs becoming stuck;
  • Highlighting the danger zone with a bright yellow crossing surface;
  • Drawing attention to the crossing “decision point” with white fence posts and ground markings;
  • Improving the gates so that they self-close whilst remaining appropriately weighted;
  • Retaining the 20mph speed restriction to the railway over the crossing.

In addition to this work Network Rail will deliver a targeted safety campaign with, and for, the local community.

It will also undertake further studies and monitoring of the crossing following the safety enhancements.

One of the main safety concerns at Cottonmill Lane is the number of people crossing without looking both ways and without removing headphones and hoods.

Trends show that the more this type of behaviour occurs the greater the likelihood of serious injury or worse.  

The most recent serious near-miss at Cottonmill Lane was in September this year when a man stepped on to the crossing without looking. He narrowly escaped being hit by a train.

Network Rail is calling on crossing users to look both ways before crossing, and to remove headphones and hoods.

Martin Frobisher, managing director for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “Public safety at this crossing remains our primary concern. In light of strong public opinion, we are halting plans to close Cottonmill Lane crossing. We will continue to work with Hertfordshire County Council and St Albans District Council on a safety campaign with the community to ensure the crossing as safe as possible.”

Phil Bibby, cabinet member for highways and the environment for Hertfordshire County Council said: “We welcome Network Rail’s announcement to halt plans to close the level crossing at Cottonmill Lane, St Albans. After receiving a petition signed by more than 1,600 local people calling for the crossing to be kept open, I wrote to the Chief Executive of Network Rail and copied in Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP, Minister of State for the Department for Transport, calling on him to halt plans to close the crossing. We welcome the opportunity to work with Network Rail and local people to ensure the crossing is as safe as it can be and remain open.”

For more on Network Rail’s management of level crossings visit www.networkrail.co.uk/spotlight-on-level-crossings/