We are looking to upgrade Farnborough North and Hatches level crossings, to provide safer and more accessible routes across our railway.
We are developing proposals to close the level crossing at Farnborough North with the installation of a new accessible footbridge, as well as the closure of the current level crossing at The Hatches, being replaced by a new accessible footbridge at Spencer Close, located south of the existing level crossing.
Getting everyone home safely every day is a key priority for us at Network Rail. Level crossings are one of the key sources of catastrophic risk, we have a funded strategy to reduce it and that’s why we want to close the Hatches Level Crossing and Farnborough North Level Crossing, replacing them with safer and more accessible routes over the railway.
Both level crossings currently rank as some of the highest risk crossings on the Wessex route. Whilst mitigations are in place, the risk that exists today to users is still unacceptably high. As a result, we have undertaken work to find suitable solutions to reduce this risk and provide a positive cost-benefit solution.
Farnborough North Level Crossing is a footpath crossing with Miniature Stop Lights (MSL) and is situated on the North Downs Line (Reading to Gatwick) spanning two lines of operational railway. As well as being a public right of way, the crossing provides platform to platform access and is well used by daily commuters (both station and non-station users), dog walkers, local walkers/cyclists, mothers with pushchairs, elderly users, school children and students.
The Crossing has a long history of misuse and near misses. These incidents comprise cyclists and pedestrians traversing straight over the Crossing with total disregard to the MSL warning. The risk assessment ranks the crossing as high risk, placing it fourth highest risk of 151 similar footpath crossings on the Wessex Route.
Our proposal is to close the level crossing and to build an accessible bridge with lifts to the north of the current crossing as part of the station platform area. The bridge and lifts would provide a suitable alternative, grade separated, route over the railway on a similar alignment to the previous path. The main benefit is that passenger users will retain uninterrupted platform to platform access at all times whilst reducing the risk.
The Hatches Level Crossing is a footpath level crossing which is located on a double track railway on the Ascot to Guildford Line. Whistle boards are fitted at the crossing due to the restrictive sighting of approaching trains.
Currently gates are installed at the crossing and are set back allowing any user to step inside but not be in any ‘danger zone’. Signage is present on the crossing promoting best practise on how to properly use the crossing however accidental and deliberate misuse is unacceptably high and is a regularly reported issue.
Our proposal is to close the level crossing at The Hatches and build an accessible footbridge 200 metres south at Spencer close with a lit pathway connecting to the original path. The location at Spencer Close was decided based on it offering the shortest distance back to the pathway plus the availability of land to construct the bridge. The existing crossing will be removed and fenced off completely. It will blend in with the rest of the railway boundary creating a cul-de-sac at the Hatches. An access point will remain for Network Rail staff only. The proposed pathway from Spencer Close to the original pathway junction will be lit.
The key benefits of the schemes are:
- Provision of two new bridges allowing continual access over the railways
- The removal of two high risk level crossings
- Ensured access for future years between two communities
- New footpath linking the bridge at Spencer Close back to the current pathway
- Station access at Farnborough North
- The removal of a costly method of protection at Farnborough North
Public consultations at this stage at Hatches and Farnborough commenced early September, with the aim that many of the questions would be answered before any formal stages. Our next steps are finalising our formal consents process which includes an objection and inquiry period.
Once a solution has been finalised by Network Rail then this will form the basis of the proposal. This will be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport. This will then be passed to the Planning Inspectorate who will convene the public enquiry. They will hear evidence for and against the proposal at the inquiry and reach an independent decision on the proposal.
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Our lineside neighbours in the area are invited to provide feedback on any aspect of the scheme with the below email:
For more information call our National Helpline on 03457 11 41 41 or contact us on Twitter @NetworkRailWessex