Souldrop Level Crossing

Closed 24 May 2018

Opened 15 Mar 2018

Overview

Souldrop Level Crossing

(Aerial View - Souldrop Level Crossing)

Proposals - Closure of Souldrop Level Crossing and creation of new route for pedestrians

As part of its national level crossing risk reduction programme Network Rail is planning to close the crossing over the Midland Main Line railway in Souldrop, Bedfordshire (postcode MK44 1EX) and extinguish the existing footpath (Public Footpath No. 2 Knotting and Souldrop) over the crossing.

A new public footpath is proposed that will divert pedestrians over the nearby Back Lane.

Improving Level Crossing Safety

In 2010 Network Rail embarked on a landmark level crossing risk reduction programme. The objective of this programme is to close and upgrade crossings across the network, which will improve safety for everyone and reduce the risk that level crossings present to the national rail network.

Level crossings were part of a network developed in the nineteenth century, when there were slower trains, few cars and the pace of life was much slower. If you were to build a railway today it would not have any level crossings, other than in exceptional circumstances (for example, HS1 does not have any level crossings).

The most effective way of reducing risk is to eliminate a crossing completely by closing it. Since the start of the programme Network Rail has closed more than 1,000 crossings and many more have been improved or are being upgraded.

Souldrop Level Crossing

The crossing spans two high speed lines and one lower speed line and traverses steep terrain. This means that there is a greater risk to users at Souldrop Level Crossing than at other crossings on the network and hence why it has been identified for closure.

Souldrop Level Crossing is used by an average of two pedestrians per day (2016 census data). Additionally, a further rail line is being constructed between Bedford and Kettering to enable future capacity growth and the Midland Main Line is being electrified from Bedford to Kettering and Corby – posing a further potential risk at this location.

Improving connections

To help meet future passenger demand, the Midland Main Line, which runs between London St Pancras and Sheffield, is undergoing its largest upgrade since it was completed in 1870.

As part of the upgrade an additional rail line is being constructed between Bedford and Kettering and the line is also being electrified  – importing further potential risk at this location.

Souldrop Level Crossing (postcode MK44 1EX) is used by an average of two pedestrians per day (2016 census data) and already spans two high speed lines as well as one lower speed line and traverses steep terrain.

Network Rail therefore plans to close the crossing over the Midland Main Line on safety grounds  and extinguish the existing footpath.

A new public footpath is proposed that will divert pedestrians over nearby Back Lane.

Proposed Scheme in geographical context

What are the benefits?

Although more trains are running than ever before, growth in passenger numbers is outstripping supply.

Our network, our stations and our platforms are having to deal with more passengers than they were ever designed for.

An investment of over £1bn is being made in the Midland Main Line that enable better, more comfortable and efficient journeys from 2020, with more seats and less crowding.

This investment will support the growth of the regional economies, connecting people to more job, education and leisure opportunities.

Consent for the work

Network Rail will continue to seek to engage with relevant landowners to secure the requirements for the proposed scheme by consent.

However, as it has not been possible thus far to secure all the necessary land rights by negotiation, Network Rail intends to submit an application for an order under the Transport and Works Act 1992 (TWAO) to secure land rights for the purposes of creating the new footpath.

An application has already been made to Bedford Borough Council for a Rail Crossing Diversion Order under Section 119A of the Highways Act 1980.

The Highways Act and Transport and Works Act applications will be run in parallel until the outcome of the Highways Act process is known.

Detailed plans

The Proposed Scheme would stop up a section of the existing footpath (Public Footpath No. 2 Knotting and Souldrop) over the crossing and create a new section of public footpath that diverts pedestrians to Back Lane.

This would facilitate the closure of Souldrop Level Crossing over the Midland Main Line railway.

Construction

There would be minimal construction work involved in delivering the proposed scheme.

Dependent upon the outcome of this consultation some minor drainage, vegetation removal and ground works may be required along the route of the eventual footpath diversion.

Environment

The railway is a sustainable form of transport. We work hard to reduce our impact on the environment and put rail at the heart of a low carbon economy.

Dependent upon the final preferred route for the footpath diversion, mitigation will be applied to ensure that no significant environmental impacts are caused.

How to have your say

This Proposed Scheme has been developed through informal consultation with local user groups and the Public Rights of Way Officer within Bedford Borough Council.

We now want your opinion on our proposal to inform our plans.

There are four ways in which you can engage in the consultation process:

1) By attending the consultation event to share your views with our representatives (details below)

2) By completing the feedback form below.

Events

Audiences

  • Residents
  • Lineside Neighbours
  • Other Interested Parties

Interests

  • Cycling
  • Walking / Rambling
  • Environment