Traffic ‘chaos’ which has long blighted the lives of residents and businesses in Brandon could soon be a thing of the past.
Network Rail is to make a number of improvements to the sensor system at Brandon level crossing which has become renowned for frequent faults.
Adjustable reflector brackets, aimed at reducing radar failure during adverse weather, are due to be fitted within the next couple of months and there are plans to fit new motorised shutters, to shield the sensors’ lens from foreign obstacles, by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the company says its maintenance team will be making more frequent visits to inspect and clean the sensors.
Christine Mason, district councillor for Brandon East, said she felt relieved Network Rail was taking notice at last.
She wants Brandon to be known as a small market town with a thriving community and not as a place to avoid for fear of getting gridlocked.
“We just need it sorted – there have been so many meetings, so many people up in arms, letters, phone calls. Hopefully this will be the solution.”
Town councillor Peter Callaghan, who wrote to the transport secretary about the issue last month, said improvements were ‘long overdue’ with Network Rail engineers having been called to the crossing 80 times in the last two years.
He said: “When it breaks down it brings total chaos to the town and the wider area. It’s a crucial through route from the midlands and the south, it connects to King’s Lynn and all the holiday destinations in Norfolk, so is a vital artery.
“It causes havoc and also affects high street businesses,” he said, adding that he thought businesses considering a joint action lawsuit against Network Rail would have ‘a strong case’ for compensation.
Sheila Barnes, of Weeting, uses the crossing twice daily to get to and from the florist where she works in the High Street.
She said it was a ‘nightmare’ and had caused delivery delays of several hours at times.
“It really does make life difficult – we’d be extremely relieved if it was sorted out,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Network Rail said a number of improvements had been made to improve the reliability of the crossing since the sensor system was installed as part of an upgrade in 2012.
“We are, of course, sorry for any inconvenience this has caused to people in the area. We will continue to monitor the system and work to make it as reliable as possible,” she added.
West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock, whose mother-in-law lives on the Norfolk side of the crossing, has welcomed the improvements.
He said: “I understand entirely the frustrations people have with the malfunctions and delays relating to the level crossing over a long period of time now, and I am pleased that their concerns and views are being acted upon. Hopefully, these changes will mean an end to the problems with the Brandon level crossing, and we must keep Network Rail to their commitments.”