LEVEL crossings should be scrapped to improve the economy of Bognor Regis, a senior councillor has said.
Cllr Ricky Bower, who heads Arun District Council’s planning service, said Network Rail should replace as many of them as possible with bridges.
“This would improve the economy of the area. It is one of the major issues we have had for years and years and years from those who run companies south of the railway line.
“There are 41 crossings between Brighton and Havant.
“That is more crossings per mile than anywhere else in the country.
“I realise they can’t close all the crossings because there is not the development land near them to provide alternative routes.
“But we have to press for the removal of them as much as we can,” he told Arun’s latest local plan sub-committee meeting.
Its members agreed to include his comments in a strongly-worded letter to Network Rail in response to its latest strategy.
“We have to be as strong as we possibly can and fight for better services for all of the district in whatever way we can,” said Cllr Bower.
The sub-committee also called for faster journeys from Bognor to London.
Cllr Roger Nash (L, Pevensey) said: “One of the problems we face, particularly in Bognor and Littlehampton, is the journey times to and from London.
“A journey time from Bognor of one hour and 40 minutes, and, sometimes, one hour and 50 minutes, is disgraceful.
“It’s not conducive to economic growth and to convince people and businesses to come here.”
Cllr Jacqueline Maconachie (C, Aldwick W) said: “If you want to get to a meeting in London at 10am, you have to catch a train at 7am.
“That is absolutely disgraceful. We are totally left out on a limb here.”
Arun principal planning officer Kathyrn Banks said the council would also like to see extra car parking at stations and an improvement to the existing parking problems at Ford station. “The car park at Barnham station is very busy and it would be beneficial to displace some of the traffic to Ford,” she said.
Cllr John Charles (C, Barnham) said quicker journeys would help to solve the problem.
“A good percentage of the people parking at Barnham are people from Littlehampton and Bognor going there to catch a train to London because it’s quicker.
“It would make a difference in a lot of ways to make the other journeys quicker,” he said.
Councillors wanted more seats for London as well to stop passengers having to stand.