Councillors have united to call for changes to the Roundstone level crossing in East Preston amid safety concerns.
Figures including Steve Toney, chairman of East Preston Parish Council, Roger Elkins, West Sussex County Councillor for East Preston, and chairman of Kingston Parish Council Geraldine Walker, all backed reform to the crossing on Worthing Road, East Preston.
Andrea Chapman, East Preston Parish Councillor, said that members of the public had approached the council about how long the level crossing is down, causing traffic delays and making drivers impatient, and that the layout was confusing, so motorists did not know who had the right of way.
The 43-year-old of Mayfield, East Preston, feared this combination of factors would eventually lead to a serious accident.
She said: “I see the problems every day when I take my boys to school. I’m living it myself, so I see why everyone is so frustrated.”
According to East Preston Parish Council, ‘residents were often troubled by bus drivers pulling out from North Lane when the gates were down and sitting in the yellow box, blocking south-eastbound traffic from Worthing Road from turning right into North Lane’.
In January 2014, the parish council worked with a traffic management consultancy in Chichester which studied the traffic movements around the level crossing and offered improvements.
This was presented to West Sussex County Council, but it believed the situation ‘would naturally improve’ when the dualling of the A259 between the junction with the A280 and Station Road was complete, the parish council said.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “We are aware of the issue of barrier downtime at Roundstone level crossing and we appreciate the impact that this can have on users. Safety is Network Rail’s top priority and the barriers must remain in the down position when a train uses the crossing to protect the safety of motorists, pedestrians and those travelling on trains.
“The performance of the crossing is regularly reviewed and we are doing all that we can to keep barrier downtime to a minimum. This includes a collaborative approach by the rail industry to design the timetable so that as many trains as possible pass each other at the level crossing, which minimises the number of times that the barriers need to be lowered.”
West Sussex County Council and Stagecoach were approached for comment.