In the Wokingham constituency the railway is one of the main causes of traffic congestion. The Wokingham Station junction delays traffic around the town for much of the day when the crossing gates are down. Star Lane crossing now has a long delay from the gates coming down to the train passing. The Waterloo crossing also impedes traffic flows. It is one of the green ironies that rail travel, hailed as a green option by some, can make car travel less green by the congestion it creates for others.
The Ufton crossing has been the scene of two tragic accidents in recent years, reminding us of the risk when vehicles get in the way of trains, as trains cannot steer away from danger and do not stop quickly. Railway enthusiasts understandably wish trains to run at far faster speeds than cars, so they present a danger to anything in their way. We also now have traffic delays from lengthy bridge work improvements and repairs over the railway at Sulhamstead.
I have in the past sought to get more accurate time sensors and safety devices attached to the gates so safety can be combined with minimising the time the gates have to be down. The railway is reluctant to shorten the times that the gates are closed for operational reasons.
I am pursuing the question of the delayed bridge works for constituents in the Sulhamstead/Aldermaston area with Network Rail. I am also about to take up with them the issue of the level crossings. Some constituents are rightly pressing for a better answer at Ufton.
As Network Rail seems to have a large budget for improving existing bridges, I wish to see it spend some of that money on new bridges. We need additional bridges over the railway, to ease congestion and improve safety. The safest way of avoiding conflict between trains and cars is to keep them apart. The greenest solution to the problems the railway creates for road traffic is to have sufficient bridges.