Villagers demand reopening of well-used footpath on railway line


VILLAGERS came together this weekend to protest the seven-month “temporary” closure of a well-used footpath across the railroad tracks at Cononley.

About 100 adults and children, divided into Covid-safe groups, gathered along the path, which was closed by Network Rail late last year, and waved banners calling for it to reopen without time limit.

Network Rail said it has closed the trail due to safety concerns related to “insufficient” certain train horns that are not loud enough to warn those crossing the line. He said clearing work to improve visibility had to be suspended due to nesting birds and will resume as soon as possible.

Villagers say they were told the trail would be reopened in August and that they would make sure that happened. They also want a long-term solution from the company and call on North Yorkshire County Council to defend their rights to travel the road.

Craven District Councilman Andy Brown said it was wrong for a well-used trail to be closed because the horns on some trains were not considered loud enough.

“There is a fantastic network of public trails around Cononley. Still, North Yorkshire County Council seems to have little interest in keeping them open.

“A railway company was allowed to shut down a busy road for months just because someone bought very expensive trains with very cheap horns. We want our trail to be reopened and a safe and proper traffic light system installed to permanently resolve the issue. ”

Resident Emma Slater said the well-attended protest sent a strong message to Network Rail that the people of Cononley were worried and wanted the issue resolved now and not later.

“From what I understand, Network Rail is confident that it can remedy the problem by cutting back the vegetation, but what is its alternative if that doesn’t work? And if that works, they will need to maintain the vegetation to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

“The delay caused by nesting birds should have been avoided as the crossing has been closed since last winter. Until the crossing reopens, hundreds of people every week are forced to walk on a narrow, busy road, with very limited visibility, long stretches without a trail, and a history of speeding issues.

“I understand Network Rail’s position regarding the safety issue with the crossing, but it has now been replaced by a pedestrian safety issue in conflict with traffic. The alternate route to the trail and the level crossing is just not safe.

Olly Glover, safety, health and environment manager for Network Rail’s north and east routes, said the crossing was initially closed for safety reasons, due to concerns about the adequacy the sound emitted by the warning horns of certain trains using the line.

“Work began to clear vegetation to improve visibility on the crossing, but was halted as they entered the bird nesting season. We hope to resume work as soon as the nesting season is over later in the year and plan to reopen the crossing once the clearing work is complete. ”

Michael Leah, Deputy Director of Travel and Environment for North Yorkshire County Council, said: “We appreciate the frustration this closure causes, however, Network Rail has requested a formal temporary closure of a public right-of-way for public safety reasons.

“The correct process was followed and then cleared by the Secretary of State. A diversion is in place and we understand that Network Rail intends to begin work in August to allow the line to reopen before the expiration of the temporary closure period. . ”


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