At the full Council meeting on 16th March 2023, the Ash road bridge project budget was approved by Guildford Borough Council (GBC). This approval came following continued pressure by local Councillors in Ash. The Scheme proposes a long-term infrastructure solution to the current and future issues posed by the Ash level crossing, including increased usage associated with housing growth in the Ash and Tongham area and greater barrier downtime resulting from enhanced rail use of the North Downs Line.
This Scheme will be delivered in two Stages. Stage 1 is the delivery of the road bridge over the railway line (and closure of the level crossing to motorised vehicles), and Stage 2 is the delivery of the footbridge in the vicinity of the Ash level crossing, to enable Ash level crossing to be closed permanently to all users. The Scheme is to be funded by GBC, Homes England, Network Rail & Surrey County Council.
Why is this bridge needed?
This development is part of Policy A31 of the 2019 Local Plan, which allocates land for new housing in Ash and Tongham. The Ash level crossing has been identified as a safety hotspot by Network Rail, which supports plans to close it. Network rail reports that the number of trains that travel through Ash has increased over the recent years with extra services on the North Downs line to Gatwick Airport, Reading, Redhill, Guildford and Farnham.
In the project description, GBC describes the project benefits will:
- Improve safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists by removing the hazard posed by the present level crossing
- Remove delays for the local community by easing traffic congestion
- Help reduce traffic cutting through inappropriate residential and rural roads to avoid the level crossing
- Alleviate increased traffic from current housing developments in Ash and Tongham
166 Trains per day
Network Rail reports that 166 trains per day are scheduled, which equates to approximately 7 per hour. That’s more than one every ten minutes. As Network rail reports each time a train forces the barriers down, cars and pedestrians are forced to wait 4 minutes. That’s 11 hours a day of cars sitting idling all through Ash.
Residents may wonder what is the environmental impact of having so many cars sitting pumping out fumes for 11 hours a day and what effect is all that pollution having on our children with all the schools in the vicinity?