SADDLEWORTH PARISH Council are weighing in on the debate to try to keep two level crossings in Saddleworth open.
Discussions are underway between Oldham Council and Network Rail over the future of footpaths across the railway at Greenfield and at Moorgate Halt, Uppermill.
After electrification, trains will be faster and more frequent, so Network Rail is seeking to close some level crossings when electrifying lines on safety and cost grounds.
The crossing at Moorgate is a definitive right of way, under the control of Oldham Council, and the ABC Railway Guide reports it is used daily by around 42 pedestrians or cyclists.
In Greenfield, the crossing is along the public footpath from Mossley Road down to Friezland and is under the control of Network Rail as it is not classified as a definitive right of way.
At their April meeting, Saddleworth Parish councillors agreed to write to the local authority and organisations with their suggestion that both crossings should remain.
Cllr Graham Sheldon said: “For me, the best thing would be to put in a gated system in both places, which locks when trains are oncoming.
“At Moorgate, a bridge would be fantastic but I do not think it would be ideal for all users.
“Keeping the footpath and crossing will still allow users with bikes, prams or wheelchairs to get across, going up towards the golf club from Den Lane.”
He added: “The crossing in Greenfield is very seldom used other than by walkers and ramblers but it’s still important to keep it safe.
“A lot of residents have complained to me about trains sounding their horns there between 6am and 12pm as they are approaching and it’s causing a nuisance.
“Trains are only supposed to sounds their horns during the hours of daylight. Putting in a locking gate would mean they do not need to sound their horns at all.
“Of course, gates are not infallible but we are never going to stop people who misuse the railway, whatever we put in place, but we can make it as difficult as possible.”
Cllr John Hudson added: “The footpaths have always been there and I think we should do our best to make sure they remain, with or without electrification.”
There are three alternative crossings – two overbridges and one underbridge – within 550 metres of the crossing at Greenfield, which have been suggested as alternative routes.
Rail user group SHRUG is also calling for the well-used crossing at Moorgate to remain open.
David Wheeler, a SHRUG member, told the Independent previously: “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, our meeting felt a bridge should be put in place similar to the one at Butterhouses, Dobcross.”