Saturday 2 July 2011

Crossing or not

I noticed a small change to OSM close to home, so, as usual, I looked to see what the change was. A guy known as Valentijn had added a gate to public footpath and a comment about it being locked. I contacted him to ask about this and following his helpful message I went to see what was going on.

There is a public footpath on a paved track from Dunswell Road to the service road that runs around the Creyke Beck substation just north of Cottingham, as shown here. What Valentijn had found was that the gate either side of the railway crossing was chained and padlocked, and that was what I found too. There were the usual notices that Network Rail put up on unmanned crossings so it looked as though the crossing was intended to be used, but that someone had locked the gates. It seemed to me that the public footpath had been blocked so I contacted the local council.

I got a prompt and helpful reply from an Assistant Engineer (definitive map) who explained that the footpath only went as far as the crossing gates at each side of the railway and that the crossing was a private crossing for a local farm. He sent me a definitive map, but I haven't copied it here since it bears the Crown Copyright notice.

He went on to explain that the farm has had a road built connecting it to Cottingham (part of the work on the substation expansion I suspect) and so the crossing is no longer the main way of getting to the farm. After some incidents elsewhere in the country Network Rail's Health and Safety Team looked at all such crossings and put up gates where the public right of way did not cross the railway. It is entirely clear that the public right of way that no longer crosses the railway is completely pointless, but Network Rail have clearly avoided a serious health and safety risk.

I and countless others have used the crossing for many years with no incident but we have now been saved from our carelessness by the timely intervention of the Muppets the Health and Safety Team at Network Rail, to whom I am indebted for doubtless saving my life.

I have, however, made a useful and helpful contact at the local council and thanks to Valentijn the map is now a more accurate reflection of the real situation.


EdLoach said...

I was going to send a link to a footpath I surveyed which had signs saying it had been closed either side of the railway line (as my gps trace indicates), but someone has added an extra bit and a footbridge so I need to resurvey, as there is no bridge on bing.

EdLoach said...

I revisited the path I mentioned in my previous comment today. It has indeed been diverted, some concrete steps built up either side of the embankment, but it is just a crossing point rather than a bridge. I'm pleased that the path has reopened - I was quite upset at a railway seemingly have the power to make a public footpath pointless. Anyway, thanks to your blog post that will be another improvement to the map (when I get a moment to upload traces and photos of footbridges/kissing gates/steps on the diverted route). And it was an excuse for a countryside walk with my three-next-week year old.