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Delight as new barriers go up at killer Delny crossing - after a ten-year wait

By SPP Reporter

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The new half-barrier system in operation at Delny in Easter Ross.
The new half-barrier system in operation at Delny in Easter Ross.

The half-barriers at the Delny crossing were installed last week and now Dingwall has one of the last two remaining open crossings in the country.

Locals Allan Thain of Tain and Paul Oliver of Fearn died when the car they were travelling in collided with the Inverness to Wick train at the Delny open level crossing in February 2007.

The car’s driver, their friend Richard Fleming, was later jailed for five years for causing death by dangerous driving.

Since the tragedy, the community around Delny has long campaigned for safety measures to be installed at the crossing, where there has also been a number of near misses.

The long-running saga included, at one point, a controversial proposal to close the crossing and replace it with a detour to the A9, instead of installing barriers.

Following local protests, the situation changed two years ago when Network Rail made the surprise announcement that it was looking into the possibility of replacing the crossing with a brand new bridge, which would keep the road access to the A9 open and unlock land for a major housing development.

The railway authority also agreed to install interim safety barriers.

The barriers are now fully operational, much to the relief of residents and local politicians.

The work to install the barriers involved closing the road for a week.

Tom Anderson, chairman of Kilmuir and Logie Easter Community Council, told the Ross-shire Journal the locals didn’t mind putting up with the short-term disruption.

He also paid tribute to previous members of the community council who had worked hard to campaign for improved safety at the crossing.

“The community council has been involved in this long before I became a member,” he said.

“Previous members of the community council worked hard for this over the years. We are very pleased – it has taken some time – but the barriers are working well and the signs are clear. There is one thing we want, which we have been trying to get the council to do, and that is to reinstate the while lines at the giveway signs at the Barbaraville end and the A9 end of the road.”

Gail Ross, MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, said: “I am delighted to see that work has now been completed on the Delny crossing and that the road has reopened again.

“This is a major improvement to the crossing and I thank all who were involved in bringing the improvement to fruition.”

The half-barrier crossing system became operational on Sunday, September 3 following a week-long closure of the crossing from Monday, August 28.

Network Rail says it is currently developing plans to remove the crossing entirely from the railway and replace it with a bridge.

The upgrade moves Scotland’s railway a step closer to completing a programme to barrier all open crossings in the country – with only Dingwall No 1 and Rosarie in Moray still to be upgraded.

Alex Sharkey, head of operations at Network Rail, said: “This new infrastructure will further improve safety for road users and rail passengers at this location while we continue to develop plans for a new bridge over the line.

“Level crossings are one of the biggest risks to rail safety and we are committed to removing public crossings where we can, and installing barriers where we cannot.”

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