The Kirknewton Community Council recently wrote to Network Rail following a report in the Edinburgh Evening News and information from West Lothian Council members for clarification on a number of questions they had and an invitation to speak to the Community Council and interested members of the Kirknewton community on Tuesday 12th March 2011 at 6.45pm. Here is their reponse to those questions for you before the meeting on Tuesday.
Dear Kirknewton Community Council
Firstly, please accept Network Rail’s apologies for not providing the latest information about Kirknewton level crossing changes before the information was provided to the local council and consequently the Evening News. Ideally, this would have been better coordinated. It has also taken me longer that I expected to respond to your email. I have provided a response to your questions below. After reviewing, if you would still like us to attend your community council meeting next week, please advise – I will attend accompanied by someone from the project team.
1. What works are to be undertaken? What type of barrier will be installed?
Works will be carried out to upgrade the existing Automatic Half Barrier (AHB) Level Crossing at Kirknewton Level crossing to a Manually Controlled Barrier with Obstacle Detection (MCB-OD). In order to facilitate these works it will be necessary to close the road across the level crossing on the following dates:
Sunday 19 May 2013 the road will be closed
Sunday 2 June 2013 : At approx. 14:30 Hrs the road will be re- opened to traffic.
2. What will the long term effects of the new barrier on the length of time the road will be open to traffic in any hour?
The barriers shall be down for longer than they are currently. This is because the new type of crossing operates in a different way from the current half barrier crossing. The current crossing operation is triggered by the approach of a train and the barriers are automatically lowered. The time from activation of the approaching train to the train arriving at the crossing can be as little as 27 seconds for non stopping express trains. This new system is being introduced in order to provide a higher level of protection for rail and road users. It operates with the approach of a train but before the barriers lower, the system checks that there are no obstructions (people or vehicles) on the crossing. This takes additional time and means that the barriers shall be in the lower position for longer than the current arrangement. The length of time that the barriers are down is dependent on the number of trains and how close they run together. We have undertaken a detailed assessment of the length of time each hour that the barriers are down. In our worst case scenarios, five of the twenty-four hourly weekday periods have more than 30 minutes down-time. The morning peak has the highest hourly down-times with 36 minutes 13 seconds between 07:00 & 08:00 and 34 minutes 19 seconds between 08:00 and 09:00. It is likely that the longest time that barriers will be down with be 10-12 minutes, however, this will remain under review
3) How are people expected to make their regular journeys from Kirknewton when it is proposed that there will be no alternative route from platform to platform other than a shuttle bus?
During the period a road is closed, a 24hr shuttle bus shall be provided to transport passengers, pedestrians and bus users. Vehicle drivers should follow the road diversion signage.
00:35 Hrs Following the last train on the Saturday night (approx. 2300Hrs)
The shuttle bus service, operated by First Bus will transport passengers from all bus stops within the area affected by the road closure to join the diverted scheduled bus services at the nearest bus stop possible. This service will operate for the full duration of the scheduled bus services timetable.
A shuttle bus service to transport pedestrians around the closure of the level crossing will also operate as a 24hr service.
It is anticipated that during the day we will require two separate services, one for scheduled bus passengers and one for pedestrians. Overnight it may be possible to run one service to combine bus passengers and pedestrians.
4) Why is there no temporary foot-bridge for passengers?
A shuttle bus shall be provided to ferry passengers between platforms.
5) What is to prevent people walking down the end of the platform as people did in the past with tragic, fatal results?
Signage is provided warning passengers of the danger of trespassing on the railway. This is the standard arrangement at stations around the country. Additionally at Kirknewton station there are lockable gates at the level crossing ends of the platforms.
6) Why a 7 day prior notice is considered sufficient to inform people of such an important change?
Works take place in May, so there’s more than 7 days notice being provided. Eight advance warning road signs Road signage will be erected 2 weeks prior to work starting. Diversion route traffic management signage will be installed to coincide with road closure.
7) What will happen to the regular bus service time-table?
A shuttle bus service to transport passengers from all bus stops within the area affected by the road closure to join the diverted scheduled bus services at the nearest bus stop possible. The shuttle service will operate for the full duration of the scheduled bus services timetable, while a separate service will be available 24hrs to cater for pedestrians requiring to traverse the crossing.
8) Has the problem of children and young people who live north of their schools been factored into the bus shuttles?
If they travel on foot, a shuttle bus will be available for them to use, alternatively vehicle users should follow the road diversion signs.
Craig Bowman Communications Manager Network Rail Scotland