A CAMPAIGNING rail user group has come to the defence of a railway crossing used by country walkers.
Network Rail has started a statutory consultation to try to close Moorgate level crossing in Uppermill as a part of pre-electrification works on the Manchester/Leeds North TransPennine railway line.
After electrification, train speeds will be higher and there will be up to eight trains an hour each way compared with the current six per hour each way.
Network Rail is seeking to close level crossings when electrifying lines on safety and cost grounds.
Richard Knowles, Oldham’s former mayor and a transport lecturer who lives at Greenfield, is meeting Network Rail next month to discuss the plans.
He said: “The Moorgate level crossing is on a long straight section of track so why do they have to close the crossing?
“The footpath from Moorgate is an important, well-used link and the nearest alternative is a long way round.
“If Network Rail refuse to reconsider, we must campaign for a replacement footbridge as happened in the 1990s near the old Saddleworth Station when a walker was killed on the level crossing.”
Now the Greenfield Rail Action Group (GRAG) has declared their opposition to the crossing closure and are seeking support and advice from Oldham Ramblers and Oldham Council’s footpath officer.
David Wheeler, a member of GRAG, said: “The closure of this level crossing on grounds of reducing trains times will have no benefit to Saddleworth.
“We have to insist a footbridge replaces the existing crossing so this ancient right of way between Moorgate and Den Lane can continue.
“If Network Rail feel they need to close this crossing to improve speed of express trains, our meeting felt a bridge should be put in place similar to the one at Butterhouses, Dobcross.
“The access from Oldham Road to the station has been removed and from December next year we are going to see skip stop services while electrification takes place. It is the local rail users who suffer.”