PROPOSALS to remove the level crossing at Cornton have been scrapped, due to spiralling budget costs.

Network Rail have been actively seeking to get rid of all such crossing where possible in a move to increase safety.

However, the Stirling News has learned that the cost to remove the level crossing at Cornton and replace it with a road and footbridge would have stretched as high as £20million.

As a compromise, the company will simply replace the half barrier currently in operation with a full-scale system, for less than half the price.

Road users, on the other hand, will have wait longer at the crossing, as a train passing through will mean the barrier will drop for up to three minutes, instead of the half-minute delays at present.

Network Rail’s David Dickson, infrastructure director for the ScotRail Alliance, confirmed they had withdrawn the planning application and added: “We have been seeking ways to improve safety at Cornton level crossing for several years but rising costs and time constraints mean an overbridge at this location is no longer a viable solution for the railway.

"Proposals for an overbridge have also proved unpopular among many residents and this new solution will allow us to greatly improve safety at the crossing without changing the wider environment.”

Keith Brown, MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, welcomed the move after making representations to both Network Rail and Stirling Council.

He said: "Over the last 18 months I have met with Network Rail on a number of occasions and held a public meeting with local residents to ensure that their views were heard and represented. 

"Today's decision will be welcomed by the local community, the majority of whom were against the closure of the crossing and preferred the installation of a full barrier crossing."

Alexander Stewart, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, had also been engaging with members of the community and argued the added would be a small sacrifice to make in order to prevent Cornton from becoming isolated.

He said: "In November 2016, I made it abundantly clear to all residents that I was totally against the closure of the crossing and that once it moved forward to a formal planning application, I would in turn make a formal planning objection; such was the strength of feeling in the area.

Furthermore, and as we know; Network Rail also has a commitment to electrifying the railway through Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa and to ensure that this programme is delivered as scheduled, they require certainty on how the safety risk at Cornton Road level crossing will be managed.

"So given the outstanding issues to be resolved on top of the existing uncertainty over whether this planning permission for the proposed bridge would be granted, these many factors presented an unacceptable risk to the electrification project and therefore Network Rail has decided to proceed with the full barrier solution at Cornton Road level crossing afterall."

Mr Stewart added: "At this stage, it’s important to say that the impact of the new crossings’ increased safety element will not be without its small sacrifices and to this end, they would see barrier down-times increase from 27 seconds per train to 2-3 minutes per train.

"This may cause some inconvenience but will be nothing in comparison to closing the crossing and isolating the community.”