CAMPAIGNERS hoping to improve safety at a ‘danger spot’ in Chipping Sodbury are hoping to stop Network Rail forcing through plans for huge steel slates which will reduce visibility even further.

Residents and local councillors want to stop the planned works at a railway bridge on Dodington Road, where they have been calling for a weight limit and improved safety measures in response to a growing number of accidents and near misses.

But rail operator Network Rail intends to erect several two-metre high steel sheets along the bridge, which is used by Chipping Sodbury School pupils to access their sports field, in preparation for the electrification of the Great Western main line.

The company has submitted a prior notification application to South Gloucestershire Council, which means the council has limited powers to stop the work, for the sheets which it believes will stop people climbing over the bridge.

But Stephen Gregson, who lives on Dodington Road, said: “They are trying to improve the bridge while making the road more dangerous.

“The danger is just being increased on the road because the visibility is already pretty poor but this will make it worse.”

He said a weight limit to stop heavy goods vehicles being driven along the country road, which connects Chipping Sodbury with the Avon Ring Road, was needed on the bridge which narrows to a single lane in the middle.

“Stupid drivers are the main problem,” said Mr Gregson. “You can’t control them but we have to try and do something.

“More than anything we need a weight limit on this bridge.”

Former town councillor Adrian Rush told the Gazette: “The bridge is very dangerous, it is quick and fast and the visibility is terrible.

“Sheets of steel on that bridge will just make it worse and there will be no line of sight at all whereas at the moment you can only see large vans coming towards you.

“This is a matter of safety. Network Rail is trying to push it through and the only way we can stop a prior notification application is by arguing it will detrimentally effect the local area, which it will.”

He added: “There is no way a danger spot like this can be made worse simply to put high speed trains down there.”

Cllr Claire Young (Lib Dem, Westerleigh) said Network Rail had not been prepared to take action on the bridge before because road safety was not its responsibility.

“At the moment you can see larger vehicles approaching but with this you will not see any,” she said. “The council is very limited on what it can do but we are asking to lessen the impact.”

Ian Wheaton, town planner for Network Rail, said in a letter to the council that the bridge’s parapets currently fell short of stringent new safety standards required before electrification takes place.

“It is proposed that the structure is brought up to the new standard by increasing the height of the parapets using a galvanised mesh plate, and new anti-climb measures to the external face,” he said.

“The railway is well established in the landscape and the proposed works and resulting parapet heights will be subservient to both the dominant linear form of the railway and the wider landscape.”

He said the works were in line with planning policy and electrification was a project of national significance which would benefit people locally with reduced journey times and improved rail services.

The council’s planning committee inspected the site on Friday (December 18) and will decide on the plans at a meeting on January 14.