West Lodge level crossing on the Newcastle to Carlisle line in the north east has become the 600th to close in the past three and a half years as part of a national programme by Network Rail. The crossing was the site of the tragic death of 17 year old Christopher Walton who was struck by a freight train in January 2008. Following the incident the gates were upgraded and additional signage installed while Network Rail continued discussions with the landowners to seek its closure.
Phil Verster, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “We have sought the removal of West Lodge level crossing for many years so it is even more pleasing that it has become a significant milestone in our national programme of closures.
“Level crossings are an inherited part of the infrastructure which we would never put in place today and we are constantly seeking ways to reduce risks at them. Working with local authorities and landowners across the country, we are investing £130m to divert rights of way or providing alternative means to crossing the railway. Since 2009 147 level crossings have been closed on the London North East route and we are working to close more where appropriate”
West Lodge was a user worked crossing. These crossings provide access to private land and should only be used by designated people. Nationally, Network Rail has closed 600 crossings since 2009, the majority of which are user worked crossings though around 125 were footpath crossings that have been closed, diverted or replaced by bridges. Footpath crossings are the focus of Network Rail’s current TV advertising campaign: See Track/Think Train.
Nationally, Network Rail is looking to close 750 level crossings by Spring 2014.