NETWORK Rail spent £437,000 on a public inquiry that has been described by a senior councillor as “needless.” 

As of November 24, Network Rail spent £437k on a public inquiry to decide whether a footbridge should be built at Copmanthorpe level crossing in York, according to a response to a Freedom of Information request. 

The application was withdrawn following the inquiry and backlash from locals in Copmanthorpe, an area where approximately 30 per cent are older than 65-years-old.

This is compared with 18.6 per cent across England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Cllr Chris Steward, who represents the Copmanthorpe ward, has called for ramped access.

On the money spent on the public inquiry, Cllr Steward, who is also the Conservative group leader at the City of York Council, said: “It is absurd that Network Rail let the crossing issue go to a public inquiry before pulling their crossing plans as they should have done months ago. 

“Network Rail pushing on meant people concerned about access issues, which one way or another is I believe the majority, had to participate in the inquiry and the cost to the public purse is needless.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “The costs of the public inquiry cover many elements that are involved in this process, including legal representation, suitable venue hire, document creation and printing.

“The figure represents just a small fraction of the expected cost to deliver the Transpennine route upgrade. 

“This major programme will support economic growth in the north and deliver real benefits for passengers, communities and freight services along this vital rail artery between York, Leeds and Manchester, enabling faster, quieter and more frequent electric trains.

“As a public sector organisation, we take our spending decisions seriously and felt that on this occasion, following passionate and reasoned objections to our proposed plans, the best option was to withdraw the application. 

“This now allows us a further opportunity to evaluate solutions which may be viable and re-assess the benefits of all options.”