Forres rail crossing talks end with call for a rethink

Transport Scotland reluctant to create crossing to Forres Station.
Transport Scotland reluctant to create crossing to Forres Station.

A SINGLE FATALITY on the A96 through Forres has been used by a Transport Scotland planner as insufficient to justify a new pedestrian crossing linking the town with its railway station.

That, however, has been dismissed by many who attended a crunch meeting this week organised by the Forres Community Council – with prominent road safety campaigner David Stewart MSP insisting that using statistics alone was unacceptable.

Mr Stewart attended the meeting alongside Richard Lochhead and Douglas Ross and representatives from Transport Scotland and Network Rail. They were brought together to discuss access to the railway station over the busy trunk road, with a view to including a new pedestrian crossing in plans to move the location of the station.

The Labour regional MSP said: “I want to thank members of Forres Community Council for arranging this very important meeting designed to try and provide safe crossing for pedestrians making their way to or from the new rail station being built in the town.

“The fact of the matter is that it is expected with an increase in train traffic there will see a 75% increase in pedestrian traffic to and from this station. Expectation is that these pedestrians cross a ‘double single carriageway’ and stop on a central reservation before proceeding, without pedestrian controlled lights, is frankly a locus looking for a collision.

“In short Ken Aitken, the Planner from Transport Scotland, highlighted to us all that because there was only one fatality, one non-fatal injury collision and 12 damage only collisions in 27 years, and that the evidence did not support a pedestrian crossing being put at this location.

“I made the point and continue to do so that one death is one too many and the statistics referred to by Mr Aitken related to only those collisions that were reported to the Police. I asked what about all the near misses that happen every day.”

The MSP compared the situation in Forres with that in Nairn, where he had intervened to ensure that new traffic light junctions were controlled by pedestrian crossings.

He said: “The question was asked – how is it OK to install so many pedestrian crossing through Nairn with low collision statistics and not be in a position to install one on the A96 on the Forres bypass at the rail Station. Mr Aitken advised that in Nairn there was expected development.”

Mr Stewart welcomed the fact that Mr Aitken had agreed to return to Transport Scotland with the clear message that a reassessment was required in Forres.