Network Rail has apologised to businesses affected by the closure of Hale Level Crossing – with some complaining that the move had “absolutely killed” the village this month.
The Ashley Road crossing was closed on February 1st to allow for “essential maintenance work” the replace the highway surfacing across the crossing.
But the works have overrun, forcing many drivers and pedestrians to divert up Victoria Road instead of continuing up Ashley Road towards the Bowdon Hotel.
With works happening elsewhere in the village at both the Piccolino end and as a consequence of the ongoing redevelopment of the Brown Street car park, the impact on local businesses has been dramatic so far this month.
Network Rail say that, weather permitting, the works will now be completed by 5.30am on Monday 17th February.
But Alan Hough, owner of the Railway pub close to the crossing, said the closure had already led to a hit in takings of over 25%.
Hough said: “We had a solid January, similar to last year, but then February has been an absolute disaster. People have just stopped coming to the village because of the inconvenience as you lose all the passing trade. Once people know it’s there they stop coming.
“People coming into the pub have reported that their trade is down and it’s without doubt had an impact on the village.”
He added: “People need to be more mindful of the impact – why have the planned works outside Piccolinos and outside the train station happened at the same time? Someone should have recognised that this wasn’t a good idea. It’s absolutely killed the village in February.”
Sarah McArdle, Network Rail scheme project manager, blamed last weekend’s Storm Ciara for the delay in completing the project.
She said: “We’re sorry to businesses and residents impacted by our safety improvements to renew the road surface at Hale station level crossing. This must be done at night when trains aren’t running. During the day fencing is also being replaced and can only be done safely if the road is closed to traffic.
“We’re working as fast as we can to complete the resurfacing and fencing work but are being hampered by the very bad weather. We thank people for their patience while we battle with the elements to get this important safety work finished.”
A spokesperson for Trafford Council said: “The work being undertaken by Network Rail is essential maintenance work to replace the highway surfacing across the crossing and for Health and Safety reasons the majority of the work has to be undertaken whilst the rail line is closed.
“Trafford Council has asked for the advance notification road closed signs to be improved by the contractor as soon as possible, particularly at the traffic signal junction of Ashley Road with Stamford Road and Langham Road.
“Unfortunately, due to the inclement weather last weekend, the programmed work could not take place and this has been re-scheduled for this weekend during an additional overnight closure of the rail line. This will include work to resurface the road, between the rails and both sides of the carriageway up to the rail barriers which cannot be done without a closure of the rail line in addition to the road closure.
“There will be some extra footway repairs undertaken by the Council in the next day or so just on the Victoria Road side of the crossing but this will be within the extents of the current closure at the level crossing. We have spoken with the contractor on the Brown Street site and explained that the road cannot be closed until the level crossings work has been completed.”