Seaford residents’ fears over level crossing danger

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CONCERNS over the danger of a unmanned rail crossing near Seaford have been highlighted again, months after campaigners celebrated improvements being made at the site.

Residents had rallied round for changes to be made to Tide Mills Level Crossing amid fears someone could be killed following several near misses.

Jim Skinner, chairman of the Friends of Tide Mills, along with Access in Seaford and Newhaven Committee and local people, has been calling for better access for tourists and residents and urged for the old fashioned ‘kissing gates’ to be replaced.

Self-closing gates were installed towards the end of last year and although high winds in December had caused the gates to be blown open Mr Skinner said he was looking forward to the problem being rectified and residents welcomed the works. But five weeks on Mr Skinner and other residents have been in touch with Network Rail to say something needs to be done as a matter of urgency, with one warning it will only be a ‘matter of time’ before a child or animal runs into the path of an oncoming train.

A dog was killed after it was hit by a train at the spot in July 2010 and a total of 18 major incidents have been logged at the site by Network Rail since 1997.

The incidents led Mr Skinner to urge people to take care and join with local residents calling for action to be taken.

Mr Skinner said, “We from the Friends of Tide Mills have just completed our first visit to Tide Mills of the year and its usage over the weekend was amazing, so people do appreciate the improvement to the crossing, as of course we do, but the gates are becoming a major concern now.”

Geoff King, of Marine Drive, added, “This morning we experienced a southerly wind of probably force 6 to 7 and guess what – the gate was not ‘self- closing’. In fact, it was hanging ajar as usual.

“The truth is that neither of the gates has been self-closing except on a perfectly calm day when there was no wind at all.

“And then, a little later this morning, to my surprise, my amazement and my total admiration – someone, presumably local, has taken it into their own hands to add some ‘temporary equipment’ that does work and does hold the gate shut.

“What do we have to wait for to get these gates fixed properly – blood on the railway line?

“It will only be a matter of time before a child or a dog runs through these half open gates and into the path of an oncoming train.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said, “We have experienced some problems with the recently installed gates which means they sometimes do not fully close during high winds.

“We have installed a self-closing mechanism which uses compressed gas which is set at the minimum pressure to keep the gates closed during strong winds, however, some people have raised concerns that they are now too heavy. We are reviewing further long-term options and will discuss these with the Friends of Tide Mills in due course.”