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Access to Canvey won't be compromised while work carried out on Benfleet railway bridge
A 100-year-old railway bridge at Benfleet Train Station, in Ferry Road, will be replaced as part of a major maintenance program by Network Rail.
The project, which will also include the construction of new platforms and repairs to the railway track, will mean passengers will be forced to use replacement bus services between Leigh and Pitsea from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve.
Ferry Road – one of only two roads linking Canvey to the mainland – could be closed while the work is carried out, sparking fears that islanders could be trapped in the event of an emergency as its 40,000 residents would only be able to use Canvey Way.
Now county councillor Ray Howard is holding negotiations with Network Rail, Essex County Council and the Environment Agency to create a temporary access road over the Benfleet railway line to enable motorists to still access the mainland via Benfleet.
Mr Howard, who is also a borough and town councillor, said: “Benfleet train station is one of the busiest stops along that line so I welcome any improvements there.
“However, I recognise residents’ concerns about access to Canvey and am holding discussions to try and allow motorists to temporarily use the railway crossing off Ferry Road."
In theory drivers would be allowed up the slip road off Ferry Road to the railway track, cross over the line and link up with High Street behind the station, thereby avoiding going under the railway bridge.
Mr Howard is also trying to get an emergency access road, from Northwick Road to Pitsea Train Station opened so that emergency services will be able to travel to the island in the event of an emergency.
An Essex County Council spokesman said: “A schedule for the works is currently being considered in partnership with Network Rail and others. A meeting is being held with Councillors and interested parties in November where information about the scheme will be provided.”
Bosses at Network Rail have confirmed the route over the railway could be used in the event of an emergency.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “What is being proposed is already part of our contingency plans, which we have agreed with the Highways department at Essex County Council.
“In case of any incidents on the A130, for example, motorists will be able to use this as a temporary alternative route. Please note that there will be height restrictions. “We do appreciate this project will cause some disruption and we thank the people of the area for their understanding.”