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Crossing: Courage needed to reverse closure decision

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

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THE FRIENDS of the Long Rock Mexico Crossing have looked at the evidence on the risks of the pedestrian crossing and concluded that in 160-plus years, there have been no deaths that were attributable to risky features of this crossing.

The idea there are so many near-misses that more deaths are likely is also misleading. This is actually a single-track crossing.

The coroner gave an opinion that the crossing should be closed without any adequate investigation of the local impacts and now refuses to disclose his/her reasoning to the people this affects.

The distance to the road crossing is 200m, as repeated in last week's Cornishman, if you go along the track.

But if you are heading for the beach below the crossing or towards Marazion, as most people are, then it will add more than 1km to your round trip, unless you walk along a dangerous road.

Parents teach their children every day to cross safely here, and this will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

You cannot create safety by shutting people in a padded cell – in the end they will set it on fire.

Most people, but apparently, not the coroner, understand this is the flaw in the nanny state.

We call on the Cornwall Coroner to publish their Rule 43 letter, and the evidence it is based on, or withdraw it.

We hope that Cornwall Council will have the courage to confront the weakness of the coroner's case on this, give a reasoned reply to it, and reopen the crossing.

HELEN EYNON

Secretary, Friends of Long Rock Mexico Crossing

I WOULD like to put into perspective some of the information given in your article 'Meeting called over railway crossing' (The Cornishman, January 10).

A lot has been made in the Cornishman's reporting of this story of the 'five near-misses on the crossing since 2007'. To put this into context, according to Network Rail's own figures there were 1,179 near-misses involving pedestrians on level crossings since 2007. Should all these crossings be closed down?

The RAIB report into the Long Rock fatality also reveals that "between January 1, 2002 and May 10, 2007 there were no reported incidents at the crossing", which argues against the idea that the crossing is inherently dangerous.

The report further states that "the RAIB has reviewed accidents and near-misses involving pedestrians on level crossings nationally between 2001 and 2011 there has been no discernible trend in fatal accidents to pedestrians at footpath and user-worked crossings in this period".

In this context, the 'emergency' closure of the crossing seems a clear overreaction and, in line with the strong public feeling displayed by the community of Long Rock at the public meeting on Thursday, January 10, the crossing should be opened again as soon as possible.

PAUL GLINK

Long Rock

THE CLOSURE of the Long Rock railway crossing is not justified by the tragic death of Mrs Nicholls.

With respect to the coroner, who recommended closure, and to her family, who welcomed his decision, her death does not mean that continued use of the crossing is necessarily an unacceptable risk.

After all, pedestrian crossings of roads are not closed every time a pedestrian is killed.

Risks of this sort can be analysed in terms of the likelihood of an accident occurring and the consequences that would follow if an accident were to occur.

Here the consequences to any pedestrian unlucky enough to be hit by a train are clearly catastrophic – death is inevitable – and the consequences extend to family and friends, the train driver, the emergency services, and the wider rail network and its users.

The likelihood, however, is not great. You report one previous fatality in 1972, which suggests a frequency of two fatalities in 40 years. But if there were no incidents before 1972 this would suggest a frequency of two in 100 years or more.

In the case of pedestrian crossings of roads the analysis is different: the consequences may be less severe (death or serious injury is not inevitable) but the likelihood of an accident occurring is much greater.

Statistically, the chances of pedestrians being hit by cars are much greater at pedestrian crossings than anywhere else.

In both cases the risks can be mitigated. In the case of road crossings the highway authorities do their best. They provide a variety of safeguards in the form of bridges and tunnels, for the more dangerous crossings, and lights and road signs elsewhere.

In the case of railway crossings it seems that the authorities' preferred option is to close them, which ignores the needs of local people, some of whom have already spoken out in your pages.

It might be too much to expect that the authorities pay for a bridge or tunnel in Long Rock, but there is no reason why they should not investigate other possibilities, such as gates which lock when a train is due or a simple red light.

And would it be too much to ask that they consult the local community?

MIKE BOTT

Long Rock

THE CORNISHMAN, please save our crossing: it is something I use every day, along with many other people. Having it closed these last few days changed the whole feel of Long Rock.

The crossing's safety record has to be put into context with other crossings, and roads. If it is closed people will end up walking the road past Shiver Me Timbers, which has no pavement and on which the oncoming traffic hugs the left side of road, while also having poor visibility due to the bridge.

To have a decision made by people not directly affected by the consequence is not how this should be done. Please leave us the freedom of choice to use what has been a public right of way for a very long time.

SARAH TREWERN

via e-mail

WITH reference to the proposed closure of the pedestrian railway crossing at Long Rock, we would like to register our firm opposition to this measure for a number of reasons that we have listed below.

1 The villagers of Long Rock have enjoyed using this path to the beach for longer than the railway has existed and it is an essential facility for both community and business reasons.

2 The alternative crossing some 200 yards distant, is, if anything, less safe for pedestrians as it has no path and has vehicles turning on a blind bend.

3 We fail to see any safety issues. Just two deaths in 40 years is an excellent record compared to any road. The sign clearly advises: "Stop, Look, Listen".

4 The divisions caused by this closure would greatly increase risk and inconvenience to dog walkers and tourists and would delay access to the beach by the emergency services who have been called to it on numerous occasions.

This crossing must not be closed.

ANDREW POTTER and DENISE SARGEANT

Long Rock

I'M WRITING because I'm concerned about the proposal to close the crossing close to my house.

Of course, I'm sad about the death last year. I understand there has been a petition to close the crossing, but I also understand that many people who signed it live in Penzance and never use it anyway.

In addition a lot of these people will have been asked to sign a petition by a friend or relative of the dead woman – it would, I imagine, be hard to say no in these circumstances.

My own view is that the crossing should remain open as it vitally links the village and the beach, stimulating local community activity.

Pedestrians using it could also bring extra business to our local shop so recently reopened by Pip and Richard (what a leap of faith that is.)

The only justifiable reason for making changes would, in my opinion, be if train drivers felt there was a real problem. As far as I know, this is not so. Even if they do have concerns, surely it is possible to do something other than closing this link to the beach permanently?

JANE THURNELL-READ

Long Rock

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  • The Rhythm Balladeer  |  February 10 2013, 2:24PM
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  • modrep  |  January 17 2013, 8:34PM

    These letters show the strength of feeling and solidarity among the people of Long Rock, to re-open our pedestrian rail crossing and regain our freedom. I hope the Council and the Coroner take note. And if the article on page 7 is reproduced on this site, I do hope that the inaccurate reporting in it will be corrected first: The 200+ people at the public meeting did not vote "almost" unanimously - we were COMPLETELY unanimous.

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