Railway Crossing Disruption
Published: 23 March 2021
This is the email sent on behalf of Woburn Sands Town Council and the reply received.
My colleagues and I on the Town Council were very interested
in our discussions in January on the future of the crossing in Woburn Sands and
we look forward to further consultation in due course.
Last weekend the crossing was closed at the request of East West Rail to undertake maintenance work; approval was given by Milton Keynes Council as the Highways Authority. The residents have always accepted these closures in the past but unfortunately your employees (or possibly contractors) behaved appallingly on this occasion. I can report the following three complaints but the Town Council Office has received a number of other complaints over the telephone.
1. I walked across this afternoon and was assured that I would be able to walk back home across. When I returned just before 6 I had to do battle with the man to be allowed across. Apparently Network Rail had been out and no one was allowed to cross. I was eventually allowed to walk escorted. This is ridiculous, we need the school crossing reopened. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. I have used school crossing since moving in. Nobody has been killed or injured at this crossing.
2. So much for banksman… path closed just had to walk over fields to get round.
3. Phone message from resident: He told me that when his 10 year old granddaughter tried to return after playing in the recreation ground the workman used the “f” word when he had to open a barrier for her and her friend to cross the track. He (the resident) said that he understands that it must be frustrating to be interrupted while working but it is completely unacceptable to use language like that to 10 year old girls.
Clearly this situation was unacceptable and contrary to the arrangements agreed with Milton Keynes Council. Unfortunately it is consistent with the arrogant attitude adopted by East West Rail when closing the school crossing and in the subsequent discussions with MKC.
Could I ask you to issue an apology which we can publish on the Town Council website. Could I also ask you to review, as a matter of urgency, the provision of a pedestrian bridge (which your predecessors supported informally in our initial discussions).
Mike Geddes - Mayor
I am of course very sorry that you, and the residents of Woburn Sands, have had this experience. It is clearly unacceptable.
I do think it is important to stress that this work was not carried out on behalf of, or at the request of, either the East West Railway Company, or the East West Rail project team. It was done as part of Network Rail’s maintenance of the current Marston Vale Line infrastructure.
I am not seeking simply to pass the buck however, and we have raised your concerns with Network Rail at a very senior level in the region. They have assured us that they agree it is unacceptable, and the NR team will be contacting you to provide a more detailed response. As I understand it, the plan was to maintain a smooth, temporary access over the crossing, which has clearly not happened, and NR are speaking in strong terms to those delivering this work – both about the way it was delivered, and the reported conduct of the team.
I found our discussion in January very helpful, and East West Rail will shortly be publishing our consultation materials, including a number of options for the crossing at Woburn Sands. I will make sure we are in touch with you in advance of the launch, so we can talk you through the options in more detail.
Again, I’m very sorry for the experience the town has had this weekend, and whilst it was not down to EWR, I do hope that the actions we have taken lead to a resolution. If not, please do let me know, as I will follow up again with Network Rail.
Strategy and Sponsorship Director