Overdue improvements to a level crossing in the centre of Lowestoft are putting the future economic success of the local economy at risk according to local business and political leaders.
The level crossing at Oulton Broad North Rail Station causes considerable frustration to road access within the area and causes “unnecessary” delays to traffic in the area.
“The Chamber of Commerce and Business Leaders from across Lowestoft have lobbied hard over recent times for this pressing issue to be addressed.” said James Reeder, the Chairman of Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce. “They are causing congestion and gridlock and are literally a barrier to economic growth and development we are seeing across the rest of the town.”
The operation of the level crossing causes the frustration as signalling arrangements trigger the lowering of the barriers before a train leaves the previous station on the line which is between 2 and 3 miles away. The barrier then remains down until the train has entered and left Oulton Broad North Station.
Network Rail, who hold responsibility for the crossing, have communicated with the Chamber but don?t intend to make improvements until February 2016.
“Where it is right that Network Rail will address this problem, a wait of over two years is simply not acceptable.” said Richard Perkins, a member of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Transport Board. “Lowestoft is a town that faces a number of economic and employment challenges and if these are to be overcome action is needed sooner rather than later.”
The matter is so serious it has been raised multiple times with the Government Minister for Transport Stephen Hammond MP by local Member of Parliament Peter Aldous as well as via the Chamber of Commerce.
“It is welcome news that the Norwich to Lowestoft line is being re-signalled as this will bring about further improvements to the rail service to Lowestoft.” said local Member of Parliament Peter Aldous. “This work will enable the operation of the level crossing at Oulton Broad North/the Normanston Drive roundabout to be improved so as to reduce the congestion and gridlock that occurs when the barriers are down. It is vital that this work takes place as soon as possible.”
“Businesses across the town are working harder than ever in a tough economic time.” James Reeder continued. “Therefore literal barriers to those efforts should be addressed immediately and with the support of Government Ministers we can ensure this essential piece of work is undertaken without any further delay.”
Photo: (l-r) Richard Perkins, Board Member of Suffolk Chamber, Leader of Waveney Council, Peter Aldous MP, James Reeder, Chair of Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce - outside the Oulton Broad level crossing