Residents protest against new Wareham rail crossing

image captionResidents claim the new bridge would cut the town in half

Residents opposed to plans to replace a level crossing with a footbridge have staged a protest at the railway site.

Wareham crossing in Dorset - once branded one of the most dangerous in the country - is set to be replaced by a new bridge which would include zig-zag, step-free ramps.

The level crossing is due to be shut over safety concerns, and as part of a national programme of closures.

But protesters claim the crossing is safe and their views are being ignored.

Network Rail said the level crossing had more than three times the number of incidents than any other crossing in the South West area.

Dorset County Council, which is working with Network Rail on the proposals, said the revamped footbridge would "provide a safer, permanent crossing facility".

'Odd idiot'

But Wareham mayor Malcolm Russell said: "We haven't had any deaths on this line.

"We've had the odd idiot play around - crossing fairly close to a train going - but they were only childish pranks, really."

June Spooner, who lives on the north side of the line, said: "There's no doubt that I would have difficulty walking over that ramp.

"It's a quarter of a mile, I believe, just to get over a ramp before they get to the south side. It's bad for the station and it's bad for our historic town."

In 2010, manually operated gates were installed at the crossing as a temporary solution.

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

If planning is approved, work on the footbridge could start in April 2018.

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