THURROCK Council is working with Network Rail to investigate the need for a new crossing of the railway at East Tilbury.
Following several Civic Offices meetings between top council officers and executives of Network Rail and c2c over the past few months, the first steps in getting rid of the level crossing are getting closer.
Council Leader, Cllr John Kent, said: “Everyone who has ever visited East Tilbury knows a bridge, a tunnel or a brand new entrance to the village is necessary – and all the more so once the London Gateway port starts building up steam.
“Issues with level crossings across the borough are well known and we have been working closely with Network Rail and c2c over the last 12 months to identify a range of solutions.
“One of the main areas of concern is in East Tilbury and I am delighted to say we have had a significant breakthrough in the last few days, with Network Rail.
“They have agreed to look at a joint funding agreement to investigate options to remove the existing crossing and I can also say the Thurrock Council has also identified funding for the work.
“This exploratory work will be carried out in the early part of the New Year.”
Cllr Kent confirmed the council would be commissioning Network Rail to carry out the full-scale study into the current level crossing.
He added: “This would be just the first step, but a very necessary first step in getting a new and safe crossing at the village.
Nothing can happen until a study has been carried out and a full study will add weight to any lobbying of government ministers in future.”
East Tilbury councillor John Purkiss, said: “It seems things have moved on since the meeting with Network Rail last week when I was very disappointed with their attitude.
“Now they are acknowledging there is an issue and we have promises from both Network Rail and the Leader of the Council that a full study will be carried out.”
He added: “It is important that Cllr Barry Palmer and I are more involved in all meetings regarding the East Tilbury crossing as we can tell, first hand, why our crossing should be a priority.”
And Cllr Kent added: “We’ve been meeting with Network Rail and c2c executives at officer level and I’ve been involved too, talking about all the level crossings in the borough.
“There is general agreement that, in time, they all need either replacing or improving. It’s our job as local representatives that we ensure ‘in time’ means ‘soon’ and that the proper solutions are provided in the proper order.”