A PETITION has been launched to build a footbridge at a 'dangerous' level crossing to avoid 'tragic accidents' and cut air pollution.

Ranil Jayawardena, MP for North East Hampshire, has launched the petition calling for a footbridge over Bramley level crossing.

Mr Jayawardena, a former ward councillor for Bramley, said: “The pedestrian route across the level crossing at Bramley has long been dangerous at worst – and an annoyance at best – and it is time for a footbridge to be constructed, like those at Mortimer and Hook.

“This is not only to avoid a recurrence of the tragic accidents and near-misses we have seen over the years.

"More than 200 sooty diesel trains – passenger and freight – pass through Bramley every day. Together with the fumes from idling vehicles, this creates a miasma of toxic air, which pedestrians are forced to breathe as they wait for the train to pass.

"A footbridge would get them over and away as quickly as possible.

“I have been pressing Network Rail and our local councils for several years to make this happen – but I need your help.”

Network Rail says Bramley is ranked 29th out of the 56 similar CCTV-monitored crossings at a fully barriered crossing in its Wessex region for risks posed.

Mr Jayawardena claimed in 2016, Network Rail reclassified the level crossing as a ‘category one risk’, reflecting the heightened risk of somebody being injured or killed.

However, 2018 Network Rail report concluded ".......the risk at the crossing is considered [by NWR] to be as low as is reasonably practicable" classifying the level crossing as category 'G3', a medium risk.

Hayley Eachus, cabinet member for the environment at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, said: “The council has always taken air quality very seriously and has monitored it for many years. We have recently launched an initiative to raise awareness of the ways in which everyone can do their bit to maintain good air quality in the borough, but diesel trains create problems too.

“I met with Ranil at Bramley level crossing and was shocked to find that cars are routinely idling for 10 minutes or longer while trains pass through. But we cannot reduce the amount of train traffic and we cannot close the level crossing without splitting the village in two, which is why we are encouraging residents help clear the air and switch off their engines while waiting.

“It is certainly worth looking at ways we can gets pedestrians away from the crossing quicker too, and this includes consideration of a footbridge over the railway line.”

County councillor Rhydian Vaughan MBE added: “Air quality is an issue, and everyone is affected, so we all need to do our bit. That’s why we put up signs asking people to switch off their engines when stationary, as some of the worst pollution comes from idling vehicles. A footbridge would improve the situation further.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “While we do not have any current plans or funding to install a new footbridge at Bramley, we are working with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to look at possible future options for the crossing, which is safe when used correctly.  We will also look to support the council’s work to improve air quality at the site.”

To sign the petition, go to ranil.uk/bramleyfootbridge.