Level crossing in Starbeck has frustrated motorists ‘for 100 years’ according to councillor

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The level crossing at Starbeck is often the bane of motorists travelling between Harrogate and Knaresborough.

As many as nine trains pass through the station every hour, leaving vehicles stuck in traffic for several minutes while the barriers are down.

Now the problem of how to ease congestion caused by the crossing is approaching its 100th year, said Philip Broadbank, who has represented the area for decades on behalf of the Liberal Democrats.

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He brought up the topic at last week’s Harrogate and Knaresborough’s area constituency committee.

The level crossing in Starbeck has as many as nine trains pass through the station every hour, leaving vehicles stuck in trafficThe level crossing in Starbeck has as many as nine trains pass through the station every hour, leaving vehicles stuck in traffic
The level crossing in Starbeck has as many as nine trains pass through the station every hour, leaving vehicles stuck in traffic

In 2019, North Yorkshire County Council took another look at the crossing and assessed how long the barriers were down for and queuing traffic.

They produced a report with suggested improvements but it was rejected as the council concluded it was “unlikely to provide measurable benefits”.

Suggestions to build a bridge over the crossing or a tunnel underneath it to allow cars to pass have always been dismissed as far-fetched and too expensive.

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Councillor Broadbank told a meeting of Harrogate and Knaresborough councillors that the crossing has been an issue in Starbeck since 1929 with various solutions failing to solve it.

He said: “We’ve had bypasses, underpasses, overpasses, changes and amendments to the signalling and it’s still an issue.

“The nearby Bogs Lane has been opened up and is an alternative route but it sometimes takes seven minutes for people to wait while trains go by.

"It’s not satisfactory – something needs to be looked at in detail.”

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Councillor Paul Haslam (Independent, Bilton and Nidd Gorge) said the problem of vehicles backing up on Knaresborough Road while waiting for the barriers to go up has created an air pollution problem in the area.

However, Councillor Broadbank said to his surprise, regular pollution checks had suggested air quality was meeting legal limits.

Councillor Haslam also said reducing crossing times would make it easier for emergency services to get around town.

In 2022, firefighters called on Zoe Metcalfe, the former Conservative Police, Fire and Crime commissioner for North Yorkshire, to tackle the issue of Starbeck crossing holding up fire engines attending emergencies.

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Each year, the area committee receives £50,000 from the council to develop local projects.

This year, a feasibility study to look at improving the Starbeck crossing was put forward as a possible scheme.

However, councillors decided to proceed design work for two potential cycle routes and a decarbonisation project in Knaresborough.

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