Fears over impact of new freight line

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The impact of plans for a new railway line north of Doncaster have not been fully considered, say opponents of the scheme.

Network Rail have lodged plans to ease a freight train bottleneck by building a bridge over the East Coast Main line at Shaftholme and putting up a new road bridge to replace the Joan Croft level crossing.

What has been called the North Doncaster Chord would enable more trains to use a new 3.2km length of twin track on embankments and viaducts to connect lines running through Skellow and Askern.

But people living in the Askern and Norton area of Doncaster fear it will have an environmental impact and could endanger lives because level crossing gates will be closed more often.

Ward councillor Ros Jones told a meeting of Doncaster Council’s planning committee members they should not lose sight of the potential for more air pollution.

She also pointed out emergency services vehicles could be held up for longer at level crossings in Askern. “One minute can affect someone’s life - we recently had a case where one vehicle had to wait 20 minutes to get across.”

Coun Jones also said she thought one survey carried out over 24 hours was not adequate to gauge the amount of crossing usage.

“We know traffic will grow because they want to encourage more freight on to this line so there will be more level crossing ‘down’ time,” she said.

She was supported by Coun Alan Jones who wanted to know why the council were “ignoring what the people of Askern were telling them”. Planning director Richard Purcell refuted suggestions representations were being ignored.

Council officers say the Chord would provide some benefits to the community because of improved safety with the closure of the Joan Croft level crossing but a road bridge would increase traffic.

Members agreed that Coun Mrs Jones’s concerns should be included in the draft of the council’s response before Network Rail’s plans go to the Infrastructure Planning Commission for consideration.