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Rail works hit trade - publican

PUBLISHED: 10:20 03 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:04 03 July 2010

A VILLAGE landlady claims that Network Rail closed a level crossing for track repairs - blocking the main access to her riverside pub - without any advance notification.

A VILLAGE landlady claims that Network Rail closed a level crossing for track repairs - blocking the main access to her riverside pub - without any advance notification.

Sybina Hirschle, who runs the Reedcutter, on the bank of the River Yare, in Cantley, near Yarmouth, with her son Stuart, said the closure of the manned crossing in Station Road from 11pm on Saturday until late Sunday night had been compounded by a lack of clear signage directing traffic to the only other possible crossing.

She said it was the fourth time the crossing had been closed since they took over the pub four years ago and this was the final straw with their trade on Sunday - their busiest day - taking a 35pc dip.

Mrs Hirschle said: “We understand the village sugar factory was notified three or four weeks ago. We are the only other business affected by the crossing closure, but when Stuart rang Network Rail's contractors they did not even seem to realise we were here.”

She said the unexpected closure of the crossing at 11pm on Saturday had thrown some customers and even staff into a panic as the pub had a licence to serve alcohol until 1am.

“The other crossing is on an overgrown road and is only used when the main one is out of action. You would only know it existed if you lived in the village,” she said.

Her son said: “The signs they put up gave the impression there was no vehicular access via the other crossing. We get a lot of trade from surrounding villages and even Norwich, but I reckon people turned back when they found the crossing blocked. We would have been virtually deserted on Sunday without the boat trade.”

He said they understood the rail work had to be done, but if they had been notified at least they could have explained the situation to customers.

“It would have also been better to carry out the work early in the week rather than at the weekend when we can attract up to 50pc or 60pc of our trade,” he added.

A Network Rail spokesman said they had carried out essential maintenance to the level crossing so trains and road vehicles could continue to use it safely.

Advanced warning notices had been placed either side of the level crossing on May 25 and signage was in place for the duration of the works.

Addressing criticism of the signage, he said: “When we carry out work which requires a road closure, all temporary signage has to be prepared in accordance with the Road Traffic Regulation Act. This provides specific instructions outlining what we can and can't do in terms of signs and diversions.”

He insisted Network Rail had posted leaflets about the level crossing works to members of the community, including The Reedcutter public house on May 25.

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