Wareham - pedestrian level crossing
Working with Network Rail, Dorset Highways is looking to provide a safer pedestrian crossing over the railway line at Wareham.
At the moment many vulnerable residents, such children in buggies and pedestrians with limited mobility, have to use the level crossing - as the bridge over the railway lines can only be accessed by steps.
Since 2009, following safety improvement requirements, a safety attendant has been in place monitoring the crossing to ensure the safety of its users between 6am and 1am (the following morning) when trains are scheduled to pass.
This system costs £120,000 per year and is not a suitable long-term solution in terms of safety or in terms of finance.
STM Security Ltd has managed to recruit a third attendant so, from Sunday 24 November, the pedestrian level crossing can return to full opening hours of 6am to 1am (the following day), seven days a week.
Although this doesn't guarantee that there'll be no future disruption to the service, having three attendants does offer greater resilience in covering any periods of sickness and leave.
Dorset Council is continuing to work with Network Rail on a long-term solution to the accessibility issues at the station.
Planning permission - 2018
On 31 January 2018 the former Purbeck District Council's Planning Committee refused the application for listed building consent for ramps to be added to the existing bridge. There was no objection raised by Historic England.
Following the refusal of listed building consent, Network Rail has reiterated its position on Wareham Foot Crossing; Network Rail has stated that an automated barrier solution for the crossing is not a feasible solution. Automated barriers are not used by Network Rail for pedestrian only crossings and there is no current solution in existence or under development that could be used at Wareham.
Network Rail also stated prior to the planning submissions, that refusal of consent would not prevent the existing pedestrian level crossing from closing and that the funding available to support the design and construction of ramps expires in March 2019.
On 4 April 2018, the former Dorset County Council voted in favour of the recommendation for the scheme to continue through the planning process and for the outcome to be decided by the Regulatory Committee.
Members of the former Dorset County Council’s Regulatory Committee met on 14 June to discuss proposals to add ramps to the existing Grade II listed railway footbridge, replacing the current pedestrian level crossing.
The committee agreed, unanimously, to refuse the planning application. It was refused on grounds of not protecting or enhancing the character of the Grade II listed bridge and railway buildings, and would potentially encourage the use of residents’ cars. The gradient of 1:12 was also felt to be too steep.
Talks will now continue between Dorset Highways and Network Rail to produce a more suitable solution for the community.
1973 - Wareham Bypass constructed and road crossing over the railway line stopped up.
1988 - formal lease agreement in place between the former Dorset County Council and Network Rail for a period of 25 years, with a further possible 25 year extension, to allow pedestrian access over railway line via the level crossing.
2009 - following safety improvement requirements by Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the independent safety regulator for Britain's railway, electronic gates are installed and safety attendants are employed to monitor the use of the crossing.
2013 - Network Rail apply for planning permission to build ramps up to the pedestrian footbridge and remove the level crossing. Planning granted but ramps not built.
2013 - lease extension, for a further 25-years, agreed between the former Dorset County Council and Network Rail allowing continued access across railway land.
2015 - second planning submission by Network Rail to install ramps and remove the level crossing. Planning application refused.
2017 - the former Dorset County Council lead on new scheme to design and built ramped access up to the footbridge, supported by Network Rail.
2018 - planning application to install ramps and remove the level crossing is refused.
2038 - lease agreement with Network Rail for pedestrian access over the level crossing, through railway land, comes to an end. No obligation for Network Rail to re-sign lease agreement.