We’re planning to divert the existing footpath (Public Footpath No. 2 Knotting and Souldrop) at Souldrop Level Crossing to provide residents and other users with a safer passage over the railway.
This is part of our national level crossing risk reduction programme. The proposed new pedestrian route would involve creating a new section of public footpath that diverts residents to Back Lane.
Improving level crossing safety
Our landmark level crossing risk reduction programme started in 2010. Its objective is to close and upgrade crossings across the network, which will improve safety for everyone and reduce the risk that level crossings present to the national rail network.
Level crossings were part of a network developed in the 19th century, when there were slower trains, few cars and the pace of life was much slower. If you were to build a railway today it would not have any level crossings, other than in exceptional circumstances (for example, HS1 does not have any level crossings).
The most effective way of reducing risk is to close a crossing and agree alternative routes or signage with local communities. Since the start of the level crossing risk reduction programme we have closed more than 1,000 crossings and many more have been improved or are being upgraded.
High risk crossing
Souldrop Level Crossing (postcode MK44 1EX) is used by an average of two pedestrians per day (2016 census data) and already spans two high speed lines as well as one lower speed line and traverses steep terrain.
As part of the wider Midland Main Line Upgrade an additional rail line is being constructed between Bedford and Kettering and the line is also being electrified – importing further potential risk at this location.
Network Rail therefore plans to close the crossing over the Midland Main Line on safety grounds, extinguish the existing footpath and divert pedestrians over nearby Back Lane.
We propose to close a section of the existing footpath over the crossing and create a new section of public footpath that diverts pedestrians to nearby Back Lane. This would facilitate the closure of the crossing.
Whilst negotiations are ongoing, it has not been possible thus far to secure all the necessary land rights. Network Rail therefore intends to submit an application for an order under the Transport and Works Act 1992 for the purposes of delivering this work. However, Network Rail will continue to seek to engage with relevant landowners to secure the requirements for the proposed scheme by consent.
Please note that this process is separate to an application which has already been made to Bedford Borough Council for a Rail Crossing Diversion Order at this location under Section 119A of the Highways Act 1980. The Highways Act and Transport and Works Act applications will be run in parallel until the outcome of the Highways Act process is known.
Have your say
A public consultation supporting this Transport and Works Act application is running from 15 March- 18 May 2018 and you are invited to find out more and share your opinion about this proposal at
If you have any questions you can email us SouldropConsultation@networkrail.co.uk or call our 24-hour National Helpline on 03457 11 41 41.