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Epsom and Ewell MP Chris Grayling has written to two rail companies to protest about the way in which the introduction of ticket gates at Ashtead station risks cutting off many local pedestrians when the level crossing gates beside the station are down.

Train company Southern has just completed the installation of the gates, which means that local people now need a valid ticket before they can use the station footbridge. But the footbridge has been a regular crossing point for local residents when the level crossing is down, which it can be for extended periods if there are a series of trains in quick succession.

“This part of Ashtead is already badly affected by the crossing, which can mean people have to wait to drive across the only road that leads from their homes for lengthy periods. The arrival of the ticket barriers now means that pedestrians cannot cross either without taking a significant detour to one of the next crossing points, several hundred yards away in either direction,” says Mr Grayling. “I understand why Southern and Network Rail want gates to protect themselves against fare dodgers, but they have to take into account the impact of changes on local residents.”

Mr Grayling plans to challenge the decision to block off the footbridge on the grounds that it is an established local right of way that has been used by residents for decades. “If the rail companies want to close off the station, then they have to sort out better crossing arrangements for local people,” he says.