COMMUNITY leaders say lives will be at risk until a railway crossing is changed.
A scheme to double the existing single railway line between Wrexham and Chester has been given the go ahead by Welsh transport secretary Edwina Hart as part of a £44 million railway investment.
But Flintshire councillor for Saltney, Veronica Gay, says she is concerned the announcement included no mention of improvements to the Green Lane crossing.
She says councillors have campaigned for years for the road crossing the track in Saltney to be realigned because of bends near the approach which cause large vehicles to get stuck on the track.
Fellow community councillor Derrick Beddow said: “We’re totally delighted they’re investing in the railway but that crossing is extremely dangerous.”
He said when lorries and buses approached from either direction at the same time, one vehicle has to wait while the other backs up and this has led to ‘numerous near misses’ when buses and lorries got stranded on the track.
The revised £44m scheme announced by Mrs Hart on Wednesday will allow trains to travel faster on the Saltney stretch. And councillors insist the safety updgrade at the crossing must be part of the works.
Cllr Gay said: “It’s got to be dealt with at the same time. The trains are going to be coming very very fast.”
Cllr Beddow spelled out the dangers at the current crossing.
“You can’t see what’s coming so if two large vehicles meet at the top they can’t pass,” he said. “There have been numerous near misses over the years.
“In the daylight hopefully a train driver would see the obstruction but in the dark it’s another matter.”
He said a particular worry was that safety barriers would be triggered to fall while a vehicle was waiting on the line.
“We’re seriously concerned for the safety of our residents,” he said.
Cllr Beddow said the problem had become far worse in recent years because of the huge increase in traffic levels.
“It’s a major rat run and each year it gets busier,” said Cllr Beddow.
Cllr Gay said the community council had been pressing to get the problem sorted since 2007.
“Abdication just isn’t an option any longer,” said Cllr Gay. “People’s lives are at risk.”
A Network Rail spokesman said last night: “We welcome the Ministerial announcement confirming the scheme to improve connectivity between north and south Wales.
“This significant investment by the Welsh Government will see benefits for passengers as well as helping to boost the Welsh economy.
“Our focus now is on completing the detailed design, planning and implementation of the scheme, which potentially include upgrading the level crossing equipment at Green Lane.
“We will also continue to work with the highways department regarding the layout of the roads that interfaces the crossing.”