Residents urge Cornwall Council to reopen railway crossing in Long Rock
A PUBLIC meeting about the closure of a popular railway crossing in Long Rock attracted more than 200 people last week, days after an alleged assault on a Network Rail employee working on it.
Those in attendance at the meeting in the Long Rock Memorial Institute agreed unanimously to reopen the crossing, which shut last month following an inquest in to the death of Jeanette Nicholls.
However, those chairing also condemned the alleged assault of a Network Rail employee on Sunday, January 6, as well as two other reports of criminal damage to locks blocking off a gate to the crossing.
Mrs Nicholls, a 73-year-old grandmother and regular user of the Mexico foot crossing, was struck by a train and killed on it in October 2011.
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Following an inquest in to her death last month, in which the coroner recommended closing it, Cornwall Council enforced an emergency closure request from Network Rail.
The move means the crossing, which is 200m up the line from a level crossing, will remain closed until a decision is made on how to improve its safety or to close it.
Helen Enyon, committee member of the Friends of Long Rock Mexico Crossing (FOLRMC), said the council should keep the crossing open during the examination of the issues.
"FOLRMC has looked at the evidence on the risks and concluded that in 160 plus years there have been no deaths at all that were attributable to risky features of this crossing," she said. "The coroner gave an opinion that the crossing should be closed without any adequate investigation of the local impacts.
"Parents teach their children every day to cross safely here and this will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. You cannot create safety by shutting people in a padded cell – in the end they will set it on fire."
Mrs Nicholls' death followed five near-misses and two other incidents to have occurred at the crossing since 2007. A detailed investigation in to its safety was carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Board following the accident.
The grandmother's family have consistently supported the closure of the crossing following the coroners' recommendation last month.
A Cornwall Council spokesperson said: "As we have not yet had the opportunity to review all the evidence presented to the Deputy Coroner we are relying on his recommendation that the crossing should be closed.
"When we have all the available evidence we will consider all the options for the crossing including that of closure."
Ludgvan Parish Council has agreed to support the villagers who want the crossing to remain open.
The criminal damage is believed to have taken place between 5.40pm and 11.18pm on January 5 and before 12.44pm on January 14. The alleged assault was said to take place at 10.33am on January 6.
Contact British Transport Police on 0800 405040 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.