Network Rail will be holding a public drop-in session at the Bishop Mascall Centre, Ludlow on Tuesday 13 June, 3-7pm. Their team will also be in Onibury on Wednesday and Craven Arms on Thursday. The sessions are to brief the public on the full closure of the A49 to vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists between Saturday 1 July and Sunday 9 July. The rail line will be closed all day on the weekends of 1-2 July and 8-9 July with an hourly bus replacement.
This is in addition to previously planned weekend rail closures on 17-18 June and 24-25 June. That means that Ludlow’s rail line will be closed for four weekends in a row during the peak tourist season.
The A49 will be closed at Onibury between Ludlow and Craven Arms from 1 to 9 July 2017, 24 hours a day. Diversions will be signposted from Woofferton, via Kidderminster and Bridgnorth to Bayston Hill outside Shrewsbury.
Network Rail say the nine-day July closure is essential to “deliver a safety-critical upgrade to Onibury level crossing.” Around 6,000 vehicles a day use the crossing. The heavy usage, combined with the track layout and the interface between the road and railway mean the surface of the crossing is prone to significant deterioration. The level crossing has been closed at short notice six times in recent months to allow for interim repairs. The planned work will prevent further disruptive road closures and extend the lifespan of the crossing.
The rail company says it is developing a diversionary route in conjunction with Highways England, Shropshire Council, Worcestershire Council and Herefordshire Council. Shropshire Council told me last week that “the diversion route has been finalised by Network Rail as the route from Woofferton to Kidderminster, Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury and vice versa.”
The council also said that the roadworks planned on the Bridgnorth A458 bypass will not lead to road closures at the same time as the Onibury closure.
I have asked for information on how vehicles will be diverted to and from Ludlow. It would be crazy if Shrewsbury traffic is diverted south to Woofferton and then to Kidderminster and Bridgnorth (61 miles). Local people will use the Culmington route, as will local buses. If tourist buses and visitors are diverted south and then east before going north, it will not only disrupt their schedules, they won’t be keen on coming back again.
I asked Network Rail why the works planned for 17-18 June and 24-25 June could not be done on 1-2 July and 8-9 July, reducing the number of weekend rail closures from four to two. It was unable to give a reply late last week but promised that staff at the drop-in sessions will be briefed on why four weekends are needed not two.
Network Rail will be holding three drop-in sessions between 3pm and 7pm:
- Tuesday 13 June: Ludlow Mascall Centre, Lower Galdeford, Ludlow, SY8 1RZ
- Wednesday 14 June: Onibury Village Hall, Onibury, Shropshire, SY7 9AW
- Thursday 15 June: Mayfair Community Centre, Easthope Road, Church Stretton, SY6 6BL