RAIL bosses have secured £100,000 to reinforce Canvey’s great escape route over Christmas.

Ferry Road will be closed this festive season while work is undertaken to replace the 100-year-old railway bridge at Benfleet station.

The news sparked concerns islanders would be stranded in the event of an emergency as it is one of only two routes to the mainland.

Now, proposals to reopen two access roads are firmly in place after Network Rail revealed it has set aside the massive lump sum to create a temporary road over the railway line connecting Ferry Road to Benfleet High Street.

A security guard will be in place 24 hours a day to ensure it is only used by police, fire and ambulance crews; however motorists could use it in the event of an incident on the A130 Canvey Way.

A spokesman from Network Rail said: “The £100k is a contingency fund. It has been put in place so allow for any remedial work that may need to be done to the temporary level crossing and to cover the costs associated with having a member of staff on duty at the crossing 24 hrs a day to facilitate use by the emergency services.”

Bosses confirmed the details at a meeting with representatives from First Buses, Regal Busways, local taxi drivers and county councillors Ray Howard, Colin Riley and Brian Wood.

The meeting, organised by Essex County Council, addressed matters such as relocating the taxi rank outside the station, rerouting local bus services and organising a drop off point for residents picking up and dropping off people at the station.

Arrangements are also being made to open a second access road linking Northwick Road in Canvey to Pitsea train station.

Mr Howard, who is also a town and borough councillor said: “I am over the moon that things are coming together. We saw the effects this road closure has on the road network a few weeks ago which is why myself and MP Rebecca Harris have been working so hard to get these two roads open.

“The work is being done at the quietest time of the year, when most shops are closed and people stay indoors, but we need a plan in place if anything happens.”

Drivers will be unable to use Ferry Road on December 9 and 10, and between December 22 and 31.

Passengers will have to use replacement bus services between Leigh and Pitsea from Christmas Eve to New Years Eve.

For more information visit www.c2c-online.co.uk