Bereaved mother demands level crossing subway

Jeanette Compton lost her son Tommy Ramshaw on Saturday, February 27, after he was hit by a train at Shoreham's level crossing in Brunswick Road.

Saturday, 12th March 2016, 1:30 pm
Updated Saturday, 12th March 2016, 1:51 pm
Mother of Tommy Ramshaw, Jeanette Compton, with family and friends at the demonstration Photo: Eddie Mitchell

Today, Saturday March 12, she attended a protest with more than 100 people, including an MP, to demand Southern Rail to reinstate a subway so the public can bypass the crossing when the barriers are down.

She clasped a poster which read: ‘Our Tommy went out on a Friday night, this is all that came home’, and a picture showed his passport, mobile phone and some spare change.

Mrs Compton told the Herald: “I’m here to support the opening of the railway subway because I believe my son would still be here today if he knew that was open.

Demonstration at Shoreham railway crossing Photo: Eddie Mitchell

“It was such a shock that he went out and never came back.

“I think it’s amazing the support of the community, and support for this campaign has been overwhelming.

“[Southern Rail] have a duty to make sure the railway crossing is safe. If it means opening the subway again, why not?”

Mrs Compton added that friends and the community had rallied together to raise £4,000 for Tommy’s funeral.

Demonstration at Shoreham railway crossing Photo: Eddie Mitchell

“I have good friends and family. I don’t think I would have got through it without them.”

A longtime friend of the family, Kim Ricketts, joined Mrs Compton on the day.

She said: “I’m a local person and it’s important to have this subway open because you wait up to 20 minutes plus.”

MP Tim Loughton attended the protest and announced that we will be holding a public meeting with Southern Rail managers on Thursday, March 17.

Demonstration at Shoreham railway crossing Photo: Eddie Mitchell

Mr Loughton addressed the crowd, he said: “Southern Rail are sending down some managers to a public meeting. I want people to pop at them about the rubbish train service.

“The underpass should never have been taken away from public use.”

Adrian Towler of the Shoreham Society had organised the meeting before Tommy’s fatal accident, but said his death has meant a huge turn out on the day.

He said: “This campaign has a chance at succeeding .

Demonstration at Shoreham railway crossing Photo: Eddie Mitchell

“[Southern Rail] said it was financially challenging but it’s rubbish.

“If they don’t want to spend the money we’re going to apply for grants.”

Chairman of the society, Gerard Rosenberg, said he had consulted a civil engineer who advised him the work could be done at ‘minimal cost’.

“We’re bending over backwards to work with Southern Rail to do this,” he said.

Carol Cleveland of Monty Python fame was also at the demonstration. She has lived in Shoreham for five years.

She said: “I’ve been wondering why it was taken away. I’ve often been held up so many times.

Demonstration at Shoreham railway crossing Photo: Eddie Mitchell

“I think it is vital to bring the subway back. We’re already halfway there, we just need it re-opened.

“It’s bad enough they’re closing the ticket office here.”

Just prior to the protest, Southern Rail told the Herald ‘there is no simple engineering solution’ to reinstating the subway.

A spokesman for the train firm said: “We have been working closely with Network Rail in response to the concerns of the Shoreham Society and local residents.

“Unfortunately, we understand that there is no simple engineering solution to restoring the route to the subway.

“When the level crossing was installed in 1988 in British Rail days, the entrance to the subway was filled in and the pedestals for the barriers were installed over the top.”

Also prior to the protest, Network Rail said a public access to the subway would be ‘a serious logistical challenge’.

A spokesman said: “Any death on the railway is a tragedy and distressing for everyone involved. Our thoughts are with this young man’s family.

“Network Rail has closed more than 900 level crossings in the last five years and is working to improve the safety of our other crossings.

“Shoreham level crossing is already fitted with barriers, alarms and warning lights – which is the highest level of protection we can provide. It cannot be closed because of its location.

“Our signallers work hard to minimise the length of time the barriers are down, however it is a busy railway and people do sometimes have to wait a few minutes for trains to pass.

“Owing to the constricted nature of the site, offering an alternative foot crossing, including reopening the pedestrian link to the subway, would be a serious logistical and financial challenge when the crossing is already provided with many safety features.

“We also know from other busy level crossings that simply providing an alternative – be it a bridge or an underpass – will not remove the risk.”

Mr Loughton’s public meeting is free for all to attend on Thursday, March 17, 6.30pm at Shoreham Centre Council Chamber, 2 Pond Road, Shoreham, BN43 5WU.

Mrs Compton and members of the society will also be in attendance.

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Demonstration at Shoreham railway crossing Photo: Eddie Mitchell