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Formby Labour MP Bill Esterson and Cllr Nina Killen urge Network Rail to ensure delays are kept to a minimum with plans to install bridge at dangerous level crossing

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson with Harington Ward Labour councillor Nina Killen during their meeting with Network Rail staff at Fishermans Path level crossing.

Formby Labour MP Bill Esterson has this week urged Network Rail to ensure that delays to plans to replace a dangerous level crossing in the town with a footbridge must be kept to "an absolute minimum".

Network Rail this week contacted the MP via email to inform him that while a new footbridge for Fishermans Path level crossing had been scheduled to be installed in spring of this year, delays mean the work will now more likely take place in the summer.

The email from the company states: "As you know, Network Rail had ideally wanted to get Fisherman’s Path level crossing closed and replaced with a stepped footbridge by spring 2015. However, this timescale is now looking unlikely. We now think summer 2015 is more likely.

"We have run into delays in the planning process, specifically involving ecological surveys, questions about accessibility and land ownership issues.

"We will of course keep you up to date with our progress on this matter."

Bill Esterson, together with Formby Labour councillor Nina Killen, have lobbied the rail firm for safety improvements at the crossing.

Last August 22-year-old Liverpool University student Yasmin Jones was tragically killed at the crossing as she attempted to rescue a dog that had wriggled beneath the crossing gates.

Bill said while he understood this was a sizable project, delays meant greater risk to public safety.

Bill said: "I am sure installing a footbridge is never going to be a straight forward piece of work. The logistics must be extremely difficult. But we are talking about public safety here.

"Following the tragic accident last year, Cllr Killen and I contacted Network Rail to urge them to make sure that a bridge was installed sooner rather than later. We met with representatives of the company and they confirmed that they would bring the work forward to spring this year.

"So the delays confirmed this week are a real set back. They are a set back that we can not afford given the concerns about the existing crossing and the events of last year."

Prior to last August's accident, Network Rail had already identified Fishermans Path level crossing as in need of replacement.

The company had identified the dangers at the spot due to the high footfall, particularly during the summer period, and the location of the crossing itself. As the crossing is sited near to a bend from the Southport end, it was found that pedestrians have just eight seconds from seeing a train to get across.

The danger is increased as when the wind is blowing in a certain direction pedestrians can't hear an oncoming train.

Cllr Killen said: "We have had countless meetings with Network Rail about this issue and with residents as we try and find a solution that suits everyone."

Bill Esterson added: "Delays need to be kept to an absolute minimum. I have contacted Network Rail to urge them to ensure that they deal with any red tape promptly.

"I have even offered my services in contacting anyone who may be a stumbling block to find a swift way forward.

"Everyone wants to see safety at the crossing improved and I am willing to do anything I can to make sure we get those improvements sooner, rather than later."

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