Letters: Don’t put barriers in the way of crossing changes

Kirknewton level crossing is a notorious blackspot. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Kirknewton level crossing is a notorious blackspot. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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I was dismayed to read your report highlighting objections to changes at Kirknewton level crossing (News, April 25), ironically printed on the same day two near misses in just three weeks were reported due to level crossing misuse on Scotland’s railways.

Kirknewton level crossing needs to change. This is a part of the network where trains can be travelling at up to 95 miles an hour and we need to keep the public safe.

Sadly, there have already been two serious incidents there, one resulting in loss of life and the other in significant life-changing injuries, and I don’t believe we can wait any longer to make improvement to protect the safety of crossing users and rail passengers alike.

The new crossing will have full barriers to prevent users from attempting to zigzag through the crossing as they can with half barriers. It will also have full signal protection which means that it will only give permission for a train to approach the crossing once it has been scanned using radar and laser and confirmed to be completely clear of vehicles and people.

It is important to remember that the 36 minutes downtime quoted is not continuous but represents a significant number of barrier up and down cycles. Indeed, our assessment of barrier downtime was based on a “worst case” scenario using the number of available train paths rather than actual trains run. Consequently, this could mean, for example, that up to 80 per cent fewer freight trains will pass the crossing each day than we have allowed for which will then be reflected in barrier downtimes.

To discourage crossing misuse, our new equipment is also fitted with in-built camera equipment including Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology which will send any facial recognition quality footage of an offence to our central team for processing and prosecution.

We are continuing to talk to the local community about any concerns they may have.

David Simpson, route managing director, Network Rail Scotland

Planners must reject Shrubhill proposals

Many of your readers will be aware of Shrubhill House, the previous now derelict Social Work Headquarters, situated most prominently on Leith Walk, right next to an A-listed building. The planning permission to develop it as student flats expired a few days ago.

What they may not know is that Unite, the site owner, has asked to extend the planning permission by a further four years and that planning officers are happy to oblige. This is totally unacceptable.

It would mean continuing neglect by an absentee landlord – more litter, vandalism, graffiti, squatting, dangerous hoardings blowing over by high winds and police involvement, because Unite have made it clear that it will not develop the site. It wants to landbank it at the higher value with planning permission, hoping for better times.

If the council decision goes ahead, it will effectively sanction this sorry state of affairs. It will cost the people who will have to mop up after the fallout from the site’s neglect. And it will blight, not just the site, but the whole of Leith Walk, already suffering from years of poorly managed tram and utility works.

Harald Tobermann, on behalf of Leith Central Community Council planning subcommittee

Steaks are high for zoo experience

I READ with interest your story on Edinburgh Zoo’s plan to allow visitors the chance to feed the lions (News, April 26).

I’ve felt that ever since the pandas took up residence at the zoo that there has been a sidelining of all other animals in the collection.

This move to attract a bit more interest in these wonderful lions is sure to prove popular, following on from the completion of the new penguin enclosure.

I hope the experience proves to be a roaring success for all concerned at the zoo, but the £70 price tag seems pretty steep for what is essentially holding out a steak.

Mr Gordon Mackenzie, Station Road, Corstorphine, Edinburgh

Memorial blackout 
is a crying shame

On Sunday, April 21, over 200 people gathered at Ocean Terminal for the rededication ceremony of a memorial to a young Royal Marine, Corporal Thomas Hunter, aged 21, who was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross for exceptional bravery shown by him in Italy in 1945 when he sacrificed his own life to save 18 of his comrades. He was the only Royal Marine to receive a VC in the Second World War.

I scoured the pages of the Evening News looking for a report about this but could find nothing at all. I feel such an omission is an insult to Thomas’s family and friends, who must be upset that this ceremony was not considered newsworthy.

Rosemary Wilson, Goff Avenue, Edinburgh

Leave congestion charging in the past

I HOPE Friends of the Earth Scotland director Richard Nixon’s call for the congestion charge to be looked at again in Edinburgh is ignored (News, April 26).

We – the city’s taxpayers – overwhelmingly rejected such a plan in 2005 as an example of democracy in action. Since then, we’ve had the trams foisted upon us as some form of sick punishment for having the temerity to reject the council’s wishes.

Let’s leave it at that, call it a painful 1-1 draw and move on. There’s no need for any extra time or penalties.

Allan Davidson, Gogarloch Haugh, South Gyle, Edinburgh

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