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Nearly 90 per cent of Penzance people want fatal Long Rock crossing reopened

By CMScott  |  Posted: March 19, 2013

By Scott Hamilton

Mexico crossing - where grandmother Jeanette Nicholls died

Mexico crossing - where grandmother Jeanette Nicholls died

Comments (8)

NEARLY 90 per cent of people in a Cornishman poll say the Long Rock crossing closed after the death of grandmother Jeanette Nicholls say it should be reopened.

Mrs Nicholls was hit by a train at the controversial Mexico crossing in October 2011.

It has been closed since December after Cornwall Council enforced an emergency closure request from Network Rail – a closure backed by the Cornwall coroner and Mrs Nicholls' family.

The 73-year-old's death followed five near misses and two other incidents on the line since 2007.

But hundreds of residents have hit out at the decision – including 200 who attended a public meeting in Long Rock in January who were unanimously in favour of reopening it.

They say Mexico crossing gives vital access to the beach at Long Rock and its closure has also been criticised by a paramedic who says it is putting lives at risk.

Now a poll run online by The Cornishman has shown that 56 per cent of people believe the crossing should be reopened immediately, while a further 32 per cent say it should reopen with safety improvements introduced.

Just 12 per cent say the crossing should be closed permanently.

The Friends of Long Rock Mexico Crossing group fear that now that the crossing is closed it will be hard to get it opened again.

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8 comments

  • modrep  |  March 26 2013, 3:49PM

    Scott, I was referring to the change in the poll results, not criticising your maths :)

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  • CMScott  |  March 26 2013, 1:22PM

    Re: "That's OVER 90%!" It's really not. If you add 56 per cent and 32 per cent you get 88 per cent. That's the 'nearly 90 per cent' referred to in the story. More news on Network Rail's plan to get the crossing permanently closed on Thursday.

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  • modrep  |  March 22 2013, 1:20PM

    That's OVER 90%

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  • TheodoreV  |  March 19 2013, 6:53PM

    Train travel is much safer than road travel whichever way you calculate it. There has not been a single passenger fatality on the railways for the sixth year in a row. The 49 deaths in the last full accounting year, were either accidental or intentional on the track - most commonly by virtue of trespass or suicide. This contrasts with road accidents that are seldom intentional though frequently reckless. The tragic death at Long Rock may therefore be placed in perspective of the overall risk and the fact the crossing has been used for at least 150 years with relatively few incidents. It would be a matter for lawyers and enforcement agencies to decide if in any way Railtrack were negligent in this instance. It is an essential public right of way and the closure of it is an arrogant and disproportionate response. It is also an abrogation of Railtracks statutory and contractural duty to the public, entered into when permission was first granted by act of parliament for the track to be laid and the pre-dating route was obstructed. Not only do they have a moral and legal duty to reinstate it but also to maintain it in a safe and appropriate condition, something they had clearly failed to do in the recent past.

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  • TheodoreV  |  March 19 2013, 6:48PM

    Train travel is much safer than road travel whichever way you calculate it. There has not been a single passenger fatality on the railways for the sixth year in a row. The 49 deaths in the last full accounting year, were either accidental or intentional on the track - most commonly by virtue of trespass or suicide. This contrasts with road accidents that are seldom intentional though frequently reckless. The tragic death at Long Rock may therefore be placed in perspective of the overall risk and the fact the crossing has been used for at least 150 years with relatively few incidents. It would be a matter for lawyers and enforcement agencies to decide if in any way Railtrack were negligent in this instance. It is an essential public right of way and the closure of it is an arrogant and disproportionate response. It is also an abrogation of Railtracks statutory and contractural duty to the public, entered into when permission was first granted by act of parliament for the track to be laid and the pre-dating route was obstructed. Not only do they have a moral and legal duty to reinstate it but also to maintain it in a safe and appropriate condition, something they had clearly failed to do in the recent past.

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  • JulianT  |  March 19 2013, 5:15PM

    Sadly, on average there are 500 pedestrian deaths a year regarding transport, averaging 35 on the railways. The rest are on our roads caused by cars/lorries/etc. Just a few hundred yards away from where this tragic loss of life occurred, you can cross the Longrock bypass on foot too. We can not close every road or access point where such a tragic loss of life occurs or we will not be able to move around... In perspective 50+ people a year die in natural occurring water sources each year, we can not close the beaches. However everything possible should be done to educate all from such tragic circumstances.

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  • TheodoreV  |  March 19 2013, 3:33PM

    Some years ago I drew attention here to the neglect of the crossing by Rail Track/Network Rail and the irresponsible way in which, despite hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on an upgrade to the road crossing and track, an obvious opportunity to update the pedestrian gates was missed. The gates could have been interlocked, or even just basic advisory lights provided, to warn of on-coming trains.  Any death is emotional but subsequent judgements need to be rational. Many thousands get killed on the roads every year but never result in road closure as far as I am aware. The reasons for the accident have never been fully explained. The Coroner has naively played into Network Rail's hand. They clearly wish to deflect attention from any culpability on their part and rid themselves of an ongoing responsibility.  At the time of the fatal accident, I posed the hope that the Coroner would enquire into Network Rail's own Risk Assessment of the crossing prior to the event. Had this been done, I think it might have indicated that basic improvements had been recommended but not implimented. These (if made) may have prevented a tragedy and kept the crossing safely open.  The questions that need to be posed to Network Rail are therefore: 1. Was the statutory requirement of a Risk Assessment carried out on the Pedestrian Crossing prior to the fatal accident and what did it recommend? 2. Why was the opportunity not taken during extensive upgrade works to address safety issues on the pedestrian crossing at the same time as the new walking surface was being constructed? 3. Why if they feel the only appropriate response is to close the crossing (rather than improve the safety) have they not closed all such crossings on their system, which presumably present a continuing and similar danger?

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  • josdave  |  March 19 2013, 3:20PM

    The vast majority of accidents at level crossings up and down the country are the fault of pedestrians or motorists ignoring the warning lights or not looking and listening. It should be re-opened.

    Rate   17
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