Ramblers help save level crossings from closure

Five “key route” level crossings that were under threat from closure have been saved by the Cambridgeshire Ramblers following a 22-day public inquiry.

The group, which aims to protect and expand walking spaces, has saved public rights of way Byway 33 Downham at Furlong Drove crossing, Leonards crossing at Soham, Clayway crossing at Littleport, Byway 30 at Willow Row Littleport, and Footpath number 4 at Harston.

In a draft order under the Transport and Works Act 1992, National Rail applied for the closure of 25 public crossings and, although the ramblers found some of the proposals acceptable, they decided that five key routes were not.

At the public inquiry – which lasted 22 days – the ramblers argued against the closures for reasons including concerns over walker safety and the negative impact the proposals would have on people walking for health reasons.

Held in autumn 2017 and spring 2018, the public inquiry found in favour of keeping nine routes open after members of the public and organisations such as the Ramblers and Cambridgeshire County Council objected to the closures.

The Inspector was particularly concerned that closing some of these routes would impact the public sector equality duty as they are used as part of a scheme of health walks.

MORE: Here’s the complete list of all 19 level crossings Network Rail are considering closing in East Cambridgeshire

Jill Tuffnell, secretary of Cambridge Ramblers, said: “Common sense has prevailed, and the Secretary of State has appreciated the value of the path network both for everyday journeys and for recreational and health use.

“We greatly value these routes – for example, there is a section of path north of the railway line on the Harston footpath which runs through a tree-lined track and adjacent woodland, with many informal paths leading off it.

“Cambridgeshire has so little woodland open to walkers that I’m very pleased that this route has been saved. Thanks must also go to Cambridgeshire County Council for their hard work in helping us to prevent these closures.”

Gemma Cantelo, head of advocacy and engagement for the Ramblers, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic means it’s more important than ever to enable people to get outside and enjoy walking.”