New health concerns have been raised over Harrogate’s least popular level crossing with drivers.
After a rail campaigner complained that Network Rail were not doing enough to reduce delays at Starbeck level crossing, a local green group now says changes are needed to reduce air pollution.
Victoria Wild, a member of Zero Carbon Harrogate, which recently launched an ‘anti-idling’ campaign to cut exhaustion fumes, said the length of time the barrier at Starbeck, where it is estimated 33 trains per day stop in each direction, was down was bad for the environment.
She said: “Starbeck residents are rightly concerned about the air pollution caused by drivers idling their engines while they wait for the trains to pass.
“Any reduction in the amount of time the barrier is down is to be welcomed in reducing this wait and cutting toxic emissions which are linked to cancer, heart disease and asthma.
“But drivers can help by switching off their engines while they wait, keeping the air cleaner inside. Starbeck residents’ groups will be among those celebrating Clean Air Day in June to raise awareness of this issue.”
The issue of delays with the barrier at Starbeck level crossing was raised originally by Trevor Dale, a spokesperson of Harrogate Line Supporters Group, who has spent years fighting a lone battle to reduce the amount of time the Starbeck barrier is down.
Starbeck level crossing: Can more be done?
Network Rail says it has already investigated whether improvements at the crossing would cut the amount of time the barriers remain in the down position and it concludes that it would not.
And a member of West & North Yorkshire Rail Group for The Campaign for Better Transport who has a particular interest in the Starbeck crossing, says there may be complicating factors which make improvements more difficult and expensive.
Starbeck level crossing: What the problem is
Dr Adrian Morgan said: “Starbeck station and level crossing is at the foot of a very steep railway bank. The risk assessment was so great that a procedure was introduced that trains were not allowed to proceed beyond a signal at former Dragon Junction if the level crossing at Starbeck wasn’t closed to motorists.
“This is why the crossing is closed for longer than normal to Knaresborough/York trains. The only solution to Starbeck level crossing is to close road and railway for six months and put the railway and station in a trench under the road by continuing the steep gradient and bridging the A59 but would need Network Rail to spend around £50 million.”