‘Complete nightmare’ level crossing sees improvement in failure rate

Engineers working to repair the Brandon railway level crossing in 2014. Photo: Bill Smith

Engineers working to repair the Brandon railway level crossing in 2014. Photo: Bill Smith

A troublesome level crossing described as a “complete nightmare” by nearby businesses has seen a reduction in failures .

The level crossing at Brandon broke down or failed more than 60 times in the first three years following a £1.38m upgrade, forcing Network Rail to apologise for the inconvenience caused to the community.

However, since new technology was installed in 2016, the number of failures has dropped dramatically to 22 incidents between 2016 and 2018.

Last year, with only five failures, was the best year for failures at the crossing since 2011, the year before the LIDAR system - an obstacle detection system which is designed to detect objects on the track and close the barriers - was introduced.

In 2015, at the height of the troubles with the new level crossing, owners of nearby business on the Weeting side of the crossing, P and R Garden Supplies, called the level crossing a “complete nightmare” following its installation.

Today, owner Rachel Sobiechowski has said she couldn’t remember the last time the crossing failed and she was happy it was working as it should.

She said: “It has definitely improved. It definitely doesn’t fail as often as it used to.

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“With the crossing working as it should now, it is allowing all our customers and suppliers to be able to reach use without any delays.

“I wouldn’t say it works better [than the old system], I know there are still issues with the system, but as long as it works that is all we care about really.”

A spokesperson for Network Rail claimed the number of call outs to the level crossing has decreased by 84pc in 2018 compared with 2014 due to new technology being installed.

He said: “The improvements have included upgrading the power supply so the barriers do not fail as often and changing the design of some components to improve reliability.

“We recognised that the level crossing was causing a significant inconvenience to the community. In combination with the improvements, we have put in place a rigorous maintenance regime which means there are now fewer failures then in previous years.”