On 23 December this press release was posted on the Network Rail website:
A level crossing in Leicestershire which was closed earlier this year due to safety concerns is to be replaced by a new footbridge.
Little Bowden foot crossing was closed back in August after a risk assessment determined that the amount of time people were asked to stand at the red light varied too much for it to be safe. Train movements in the area meant that on some occasions the red light would be triggered by an approaching train which would then reverse into a nearby siding and therefore never arrive at the crossing itself.
Network Rail determined that the variation in warning time– although working entirely as it should – meant that those using the crossing may grow to distrust the warnings and decide to cross when it was unsafe to.
Now Network Rail is applying for planning permission to allow a bridge to be built at Little Bowden, which crosses the Midland Main Line and sees around 200 trains a day pass through it, with the crossing set to remain closed permanently.
Designs for the bridge are currently being discussed with Leicestershire County Council, with the new footbridge potentially in place within the next 12 months.These workings that trigger the crossing lights without ever arriving at the crossing must be track machines arriving from or leaving for the North at the sidings by Market Harborough station. And I imagine they generally take place early in the morning or late at night when few people are using the crossing.
While the railway enthusiast in me mourns the loss of more traditional infrastructure, I can see why Network Rail is uneasy about this crossing, particularly as houses have recently been built close to it. They did annoy people locally, though, by closing the crossing a year ago without notice or consultation.
In fact the wonder is that it has not already been replaced. Network Rail has spent money erecting bridges to eliminate crossings along the line here - at Braybrooke, Great Bowden and Kilby Bridge, that must see far fewer people crossing than the one in Little Bowden.
And it least it may make a new location for photographing the line.