'Dangerous' Wareham station crossing plans considered

Wareham level crossing Image copyright Network Rail
Image caption A proposed new footbridge to replace the level crossing was rejected by Purbeck District Council

A level crossing once branded one of the most dangerous in the country could be replaced with lifts or a subway.

The Wareham station crossing is due to be shut over safety concerns and is part of a national programme of closures.

Network Rail said it was also looking at other options including installing ramps to the existing footbridge.

It comes after plans for a new footbridge were rejected by Purbeck District Council in September.

'Near misses'

The alternative to the level crossing is a station footbridge, which poses difficulties for the elderly, disabled or parents with prams.

A shared footway and cycleway along the A351 Wareham bypass or automatic barriers are also being considered.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "Every time a footpath or a road meets the railway, there is a risk - we know the safest level crossing is a closed one."

The rail operator said the crossing had more than three times the number of incidents than any other crossing in the South West area.

CCTV released in 2009 showed a mother pushing her baby in a pram while an oncoming train headed their way.

In 2010, manually operated gates were installed at the railway crossing in the centre of the town as a temporary solution.

But Network Rail said even with flashing warning lights, sounding alarms and the presence of the attendants there were still "reported incidents of non-compliance and near misses".

Image copyright Google
Image caption The only alternative to the crossing is a nearby footbridge

The ideas are due to be discussed by Dorset County Council's cabinet in May.

A date for closing the level crossing is yet to be confirmed.

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