Court of Appeal slaps down Network Rail over crossing closure


A Court of Appeal ruling means that Network Rail has to rebuild a foot crossing closed illegally in 2011. The crossing was removed years ago, and palisade fencing has replaced the stiles each side.

Network Rail incurred £71,000 in legal costs at a three-day public inquiry into the closure of the foot crossing at Deganwy, near Llandudno (pictured below). Network Rail’s barrister subjected local residents to tough questioning.

Picture by the author

When planning inspector Joanne Burston concluded there was evidence of 20 years’ use of the pedestrian route over the railway, the Welsh Government confirmed the crossing would be added to the definitive map and statement of rights of way.

Network Rail appealed to the High Court but lost. Its case against the Welsh Government then went to the Court of Appeal, where the Rt Hon Lord Justice Lewison has found that the inspector and High Court judge acted correctly. The decision 'cannot be further reviewed or appealed'.

Local MP Robin Millar, whose constituency staff spent three years gathering evidence for the public inquiry, said: ‘This magnificent result really shows what we can achieve together.’

This week he wrote to Network Rail and Conwy County Borough Council urging them to ensure the crossing is ready for use when the current temporary closure notice ends in May.

Network Rail cannot currently say when the crossing will reopen or how it will comply with the law if it misses the May deadline.

It told Transport Network: ‘Following the court’s decision to refuse our appeal, we are currently assessing what this means in terms of next steps.’

This is the latest in a series of setbacks to Network Rail’s programme of closing crossings on safety grounds. The Department for Transport recently vetoed many of Network Rail’s proposed crossing closures in East Anglia after taking account of evidence on the suitability of alternative pedestrian routes.

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