Frustrated resident demands explanation for delays at West Worthing level crossing

Stuart Elms at West Worthing level crossing
Stuart Elms at West Worthing level crossing

‘Unacceptable’ delays at West Worthing level crossing have left a Tarring resident demanding answers.

Seventy-two-year-old Stuart Elms, from Rackham Road in Worthing, said he has been ‘badgering’ his local MP Sir Peter Bottomley since 2005 and is frustrated at the lack of explanation.

The crossing runs over South Street in Tarring, next to the junction with Tarring Road.

“I use the West Worthing crossing several times a week and quite often there will be delays of at least 5 minutes, sometimes up to 15, with no trains going past,” said Mr Elms.

“It’s a totally unacceptable situation and I’ve been badgering Peter for 13 years.

“It’s not to do with his politics, I think he’s a good local MP and he supports the community in many ways.

“But I would like him to answer the questions – if people just understood the reasons behind the decisions then they could be more understanding. The MP should find out how the railways run.”

Delays at the crossing have been a long-standing issue, with the Herald running a story headlined ‘Worthing’s biggest headache’ in 2007.

A spokesman for Peter Bottomley shared a response from Network Rail that said ‘a potential long term solution could be to raise the trackbed to bridge over key crossings on the route’, subject to ‘external funding’ being secured.

The spokesman said: “Sir Peter continues to raise these issues with Network Rail as a result of several constituents’ enquiries, as he has done previously, and will maintain the pressure on Network Rail to reach an acceptable solution to this long standing issue.”

Mr Elms said he was not happy with the ambiguity of Network Rail’s reply to Mr Bottomley and wanted specific reasons for the delays.

In response to the Herald’s approach for comment, a spokesman for the rail provider said: “We understand it can be very frustrating for drivers and pedestrians when level crossing barriers are down for long periods, especially on the West Coastway line which passes through many residential areas.

“At the crossings in question, there are six trains every hour off peak, which rises during the rush hours. We are very mindful of the impact of the railway on communities, therefore our signallers always try to minimise the time barriers stay down.

“However, we must ensure the trains run on time, while keeping passengers, staff and the public safe. Therefore signallers use their discretion at times and if they believe the gap between trains is not long enough to raise the barriers, they will leave them down for safety and ensuring trains are not delayed.”

The issue is due to be debated at the next Tarring Community Forum meeting on Tuesday, August 14.

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