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Electric changes pile on the agony for those living near St Helens railway
8:10am Friday 7th February 2014 in News
RESIDENTS living near the railway running through Haresfinch and Laffak aren’t happy with the view of the switchover from diesel to electric power.
They gathered to voice concerns when large steel stanchions appeared alongside their homes as part of the national rail electrification project and almost everyone in Finchley Drive signed a petition condemning the work.
Kath Littler, who has lived in the Drive since the houses were built 18 years ago, told the Star: “The stanchions they have put up are monstrous. Down south where there is housing near the line they put in lower ones.
"I’m all for progress but I’m shocked at what they’ve erected. Going towards the town centre the stanchions are like pylons, it’s like stepping back in time.
“There has been no communication, no consideration and we’ll get no compensation. It has totally spoiled our nice woodland view. We’ve been told the stanchions won’t be painted or camouflaged and there must be no vegetation within three metres of the stanchions - well our house is closer to them than that!”
Moss Bank ward Cllr Paul Lynch told the Star: “I’m deeply disappointed in the actions of Network Rail in this instance. A particular concern of mine is the public safety impact, especially with regards to the gas main nearby.
“Residents have informed Network Rail that they regularly smell gas coming from the main, and that the electrical field from the power lines may be dangerous. Sadly, they’ve had no response, and I’ve therefore requested a Health and Safety assessment from the Council’s own investigators to check the area.”
Cllr John Fulham, one of the borough’s representatives on the Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority, said: “We fought hard to get the line electrified, as it will lead to quicker, more frequent and less polluting train journeys.
“Residents are worried and need reassurance that Network Rail will progress safely.”
Their view was also supported by Cllr Jeff Fletcher who said: “As far as I am concerned, Network Rail has a duty to come and explain their actions to the people of Moss Bank. I’ve therefore invited them to come and meet with the residents and discuss this issue further.
“There has been no real consultation. We do fully understand why Network Rail want to do it but it seems it is a case of ‘this is it – you’re having it’. Basically the residents have been fobbed -off.
“They have done research and seen less obtrusive pylons which although they are going to be screened will remain battleship grey.”
A Network Rail spokesman said: "This work is part of a £400m electrification programme across the north west of England which will provide a better railway for millions of passengers every year.
"As with any work we do, safety comes first. Because of utilities close to the railway we have had to use wider stanchions to support the overhead wires as we cannot build foundations in certain areas. We have engaged with local authorities to discuss the work and have been in contact with local residents and councillors.
"Alongside our commitment to provide a better and more efficient railway, we do all we can to minimise disruption and the impact the railway has on the environment. Anyone who has any questions should call our national helpline on 08457 114 141."
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