Pledge over station bridge

Pictured is the protest at Sheffield Midland Station reagding the Bridge
Pictured is the protest at Sheffield Midland Station reagding the Bridge
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Proposal to make walkway public right of way

MOVES to make Sheffield railway station footbridge a public right of way are set to move forward with approval from the council’s cabinet highways committee next Thursday.

The authority wants to ensure the public has a right to use the bridge, which is used not only by passengers but also as an unofficial link between the city centre, Park Hill and Norfolk Park.

Residents say they do not feel safe using the rundown public footbridge over the tracks a couple of hundred yards south.

In a report to the highways committee, council executive director Simon Green has recommended efforts also continue with station operator East Midlands Trains to come to a voluntary agreement which would keep the bridge open.

And the report advises the Government be lobbied to ensure the commitment is included in a new franchise agreement for the line in 2015.

Coun Ian Auckland, cabinet member for business, transport and skills, said: “Keeping the station walkway open is a top priority for us as a council and we won’t rest until we achieve a permanent solution.

“We’ve been campaigning against the introduction of barriers at Sheffield station since August 2008 and we certainly aren’t stopping now.

“We have already had some very positive discussions with East Midlands Trains about developing a Voluntary Walkway Agreement and we will continue until all parties can find a solution that works for the people of Sheffield.

“There is no way we are going to sit back and let the city be divided.

“We simply won’t entertain the idea of the station footbridge being closed to pedestrians. Our key priority is keeping the footbridge open and we are determined to do what is necessary to achieve this.”

A Voluntary Walkway Agreement would mean pedestrians would be able to use the station walkway without carrying a ticket for travel when Sheffield station is open. Many residents have been restricted from crossing the footbridge when ticket checks are being carried out.

Councillors favour the option over creating a public right of way – because such a declaration could result in the authority being liable for security, lighting, cleaning and maintenance of the bridge, currently East Midlands Trains’ responsibility.

But they want to pursue the right of way idea as a “last resort” if no agreement can be reached.

Residents affected by closure of the bridge to non-passengers, which happens at regular intervals, have been campaigning for free access through campaign group Residents Against Station Closures.