This morning I joined Egham Hythe Cllr Alex Balkan and Mark Adams at the Network Rail Operations Centre, where we saw first hand their signalling operations and met with representatives from the Network Rail and SWR teams. It is very clear that Network Rail (NR) understand the strength of local feeling over the impact level crossings are having on our community following our recent engagement, and are very keen to work with us through their work to improve both down times and communication.
I was delighted to hear that NR are working to deliver improvements through a number of means. They have already issues improved operational guidance, which they hope will see immediate benefits, and are also looking at technical solutions including identifying whether there are more optimal points to lower barriers, looking at striking point for when trains leave stations, further improvements to staff training, and detailed modelling of potential impacts of changes. Detailed and accessible data is vital for much of this work, and work is also ongoing to look at improvements that can be made to their systems to deliver this.
Two further issues identified that have made matters worse are engineering works on the mainline which result in more trains using the Weybridge-Egham branch line, and recent faults with the new signalling equipment installed in the summer. NR are working with the equipment supplier to improve reliability, and no further engineering work is planned until February, by which time we will hopefully have a clearer idea of broader improvements, and a clear communications strategy for residents.
These issues are made even more complicated by the number of level crossings we have in close proximity to each other and NR are very conscious that any solutions must work across the line and all level crossings, not causing additional problems elsewhere. Cllr Balkan and I highlighted that local knowledge and information should be included in their assessments of possible solutions, and that the impact on emergency services must also be included when seeking local solutions.
I will continue to work with Cllr Balkan and the teams from both NR and SWR to address these issues. NR have agreed to provide regular updates which we will continue to share. In the meantime, if please do continue to share your experiences.