As part of Network Rail’s ongoing rationalisation of footpaths across railway tracks, it proposes to close both pedestrian crossings at Mill Bridge by Rye windmill.
Network Rail’s recently submitted planning application to Rother District Council (RDC) includes a pedestrian bridge over the River Tillingham as well as a footpath under the railway track (see diagram below).
The proposed changes will create a pedestrian link between the Gibbets Marsh car park and The Strand with pedestrians no longer having to walk across the railway tracks.
The scheme was first proposed to the Environment Agency (EA) back in 2015 as part of National Rail’s “National Level Crossing Risk Reduction Programme”. EA’s initial response was that it had no objection to the proposed underpass on the left (east) bank of the Tillingham though had asked for further detailed drawings to demonstrate that the proposed works will not reduce the capacity of the river.
While the new river crossing and path should provide a better link for pedestrians, the reasoning behind the scheme is to reduce the number and type of level crossings across the country. The Mill Bridge crossings have been identified because of concerns expressed by Network Rail. In the planning application it explained that they have “experienced a significant number of incidents of abuse with 14 incidents recorded since 1999, there were three reported incidents in 2017. It is important to acknowledge that these are only reported incidents and there may be other incidents that have gone unreported. There have been a number of incidents of near misses and crossing misuse dating back to 1999”.
The proposals also include a new ramped walkway to re-route the existing north-east footpath. The footpath will include 1m-high river walls running parallel with the River Tillingham to prevent flooding. This work will mean the removal of two mature sycamore trees, two elder trees and a small ivy shrub from the northern bank of the river to allow the re-alignment of the footpath with the river wall.
The proposed closure of Mill Bridge level crossings and construction of a new footbridge over the river should provide a safer and more pleasant route for pedestrians using Gibbets Marsh who want to access the town centre. This would also be a useful enabler for the eventual speeding up of train services, should high-speed train services be extended to Rye and the Marshlink.
The application is currently out for consultation and you can have your say here. A decision is expected on September 18, 2018.
Photo: Kevin McCarthy