10:33am Thursday 20th March 2014
SEETHING disabled rail passengers, mothers with pushchairs and motorists are still no closer to being able to use the crossing at Cradley Heath train station.
Network Rail promised the level crossing would be open within days of the January 13 crash which broke the barriers but several broken promises and two months later a date still has not been set for it to reopen.
Disabled passengers and mothers with pushchairs have to alight at Stourbridge and then wait for a train back to Cradley Heath - adding over 20 minutes on journey times.
Companies near the station are also complaining trade is down as one end of Woods Lane remaining closed.
Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris said: “This has been going on for far too long and is causing real disruption and inconvenience, particularly for the businesses in and around Woods Lane.
He added: “Network Rail must get the crossing repaired without any further unnecessary delay and Sandwell Council must make sure that they are doing everything possible to fulfil their responsibilities to keep our local roads open and accessible.”
Les Partridge, who runs the Kingfisher Club which helps disabled people in Cradley Heath, said: "I think it is disgusting that disabled people and those who cannot cross the bridge have to add so much time to their journeys now.
"There are some awful stories of people either stranded or having their journey time increased by over an hour because of this problem. It is like no-one cares about Cradley Heath."
Labour's Halesowen and Rowley Regis parliamentary candidate and Cradley Heath resident Stephanie Peacock has launched a petition demanding action.
She said: "It is outrageous the level crossing in Cradley Heath has been shut for more than two months.
"If it was in London, Network Rail would have fixed this problem.
She added: "I have launched a petition calling on Network Rail to take notice and fix our level crossing as local residents tell me they are furious.
"The message from Cradley Heath to outgoing Network Rail boss, David Higgins is very clear: pull your finger out."
Cradley Heath Councillor John Tipper added: "I don't expect much from our creaking rail infrastructure but it would be nice if pensioners, the disabled or even people with heavy shopping could travel the short miles to and from Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis in under an hour without having to go to Stourbridge."
Network Rail again apologised for the delay.
A spokesman added: “We apologise for the ongoing disruption that the delay to repairing this level crossing is causing."
"The extent of the damage caused by the vehicle striking the barriers resulted in a bespoke part being required which is currently being manufactured."
He added: "We are doing all we can to speed the process up and are working to reopen the crossing by the end of March."
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