Following feedback from residents, businesses and ward councillors, particularly at recent Village Planning Questiontime events, Cllr Paul Hodgins and Cllr Peter Buckwell met with Network Rail to discuss level crossings in Richmond upon Thames.
Currently there are seven level crossings across the borough, in North Sheen, Mortlake, White Hart Lane, two in Barnes, Strawberry Hill and Hampton. Barriers are down regularly every day to enable more than 350 trains to travel to stations in the borough and beyond.
When the barriers are down, this causes traffic to back up in each area – sometimes with long queues. As a result, in recent years, there has been an increase in public concern around air quality due to car idling and public safety around the barriers.
In Mortlake, whilst there is a footbridge over the crossing, many people do not know it exists, and indeed it isn’t accessible for those with mobility issues, cyclists or those with pushchairs.
At a meeting, Cllr Hodgins highlighted to Network Rail that a long term strategy for level crossings is needed – particularly as development increases across London over the next ten years. And, Network Rail committed to working with the Council and Transport for London, to consider if there are any fundamental alternatives.
In the short term, the Council has agreed to look at the signage around Mortlake Station, improving access to the existing footbridge and enabling more people to cross safely and not have to wait for the barriers to rise.
Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of Richmond Council, said:
“We know that the level crossing issue, not just in Mortlake but in Barnes, Strawberry Hill, North Sheen, White Hart Lane and Hampton has been an issue for a number of years.
At recent Questiontime events, residents told us loud and clear that the issue with car idling, air quality and general safety around crossings is not improving.
I am very encouraged that Network Rail has agreed to work with us and TfL to consider the alternatives. But, in the meantime, we will look at what we can do locally. Part of this is making it clear to drivers that they must not leave their engines running while waiting for barriers to rise. But, in addition, we can look at the existing footbridges and see how we can make improvements to signage and access and encourage more people to use them.”
Cllr Peter Buckwell, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Street Scene, said:
“We need to work with Network Rail on addressing these issues. Ultimately, though, I believe we need to look at a long term solution for getting rid of the level crossings altogether. That will take time, creativity, and investment, but we are starting that discussion now.”