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Network Rail upgrading level crossings in North Lincolnshire

Network Rail is upgrading six level crossings in north Lincolnshire starting this weekend, marking the start of a wider £83m programme that also includes re-signalling between Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes.

The level crossings work required 16 days of work at Wellowgate level crossing in Grimsby town centre.

Mark Tarry, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “The investment in Grimsby will bring the crossings up to the most modern standard and will make the network in the area more reliable and efficient for both rail users and the communities nearby.”

This will be followed by further upgrades at Friargate, Fish Dock Road, Pasture Street, Littlefield Lane and Garden Street level crossings, with the work due to be completed by the end of September.

All six existing level crossings will be replaced by obstacle detection barriers which scan the crossing using a laser to confirm it is clear before the train is allowed to cross.

This is known as MCB-OD level crossing technology. It uses radar and lidar (‘light radar’) to ensure the crossing is not blocked by vehicles, pedestrians or anything else. The complementary lidar detector, when installed in a ‘low’ position, can even detect someone lying prone, for example a pedestrian who has tripped and fallen and thus might be invisible to other forms of obstacle detection.

There had been delays in the development and commissioning of the new crossing technology due to over-sensitive detectors, especially the lower lidar sensors, causing lots of ‘false positives’ keeping barriers stuck in the down position. Signal and power faults have also caused more issues when a crossing is remotely rather than manually controlled.

The roll-out is now gathering pace, however.

Network Rail is on a mission to improve level crossing safety across the country. The company is closing as many as it can, replacing them with footbridges and underpasses, and announced in January 2014 that it had closed 750 in four years (10% of all level crossings) and that it planned to close 500 more in CP5.

Further work in the £83m programme is to take place later this year. Sixty miles of track will be re-signalled between Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes to improve freight traffic to Immingham Port, requiring a 17 day closure over Christmas 2015.

(Library image: Rowston Crossing in Lincolnshire)

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