Fonnereau Way pedestrian level crossing

There’s something charming about the few pedestrian level crossings that take footpaths over the railway, reminders that the footpaths were here before the railways.

Network Rail have hated this one on the Fonnereau Way for a while, trying to close it in 2012 and now they are back for another bite of the cherry.

In an attempt to show how lethal these things are, or perhaps how much the pedestrians are in need of a Darwin award they have erected this panjandrum to bark out dire audio warnings about walking into the path of an oncoming train while you are glued to your phone, distracted by children and various other hazards.

Fonnereau way (Westerfield) pedestrian level crossing
Fonnereau way (Westerfield) pedestrian level crossing

I stood by the annunicator tripping the PIR sensor to get the full sequence of announcements this thing barks out at passers-by. (recording edited slightly to shorten dead space)

To be honest, if you don’t pick up that something is amiss when you see thistrain

and hear this

then you’re tired of living and should spend all of your time in your phone, else go collect your Darwin award.

Network Rail is trying to harangue the local landowners into going along with their scheming

flyers posted by Network Rail’s henchmen

The Fonnereau Way has been used for a long time, although it’s been the subject of a fight when someone into horseyculture bought a property in 2009 at the Westerfield terminal, claiming to be all surprised there was a footpath there, trying to block it up and have it stopped on several occasions. Unsuccessfully, it appears. Nevertheless, Network Rail may yet succeed.

10 thoughts on “Fonnereau Way pedestrian level crossing”

  1. Hi Richard, I feel I need to vent my spleen a bit – on wednesday the 29th March 2017 I intend to walk the humble 3 mile Fonnereau Way – Initially it looked like a lovely short gentle stroll from the bustle of Ipswich to a nice country village and pub and I am sure we will do out best to enjoy it, but when google search threw up so much dirt (sic) about this route when I was planning the walk I was stunned – between the shenanigans of the equine fuckwit who wanted to stop access across a tiny sliver of her massive landholding, the path almost being ‘wiped off the map’ by failure to protect it till recently on the definitive rights of way register, the plans for a huge housing development turning the whole area into a bland, insipid lego style dormitary of Ipswich I thought I would never read such madness related to such a small unassuming and humble route but your expose on Network Rail’s shenanigans just sends me into apoplexy. Like you, I enjoy variation in a walk, and coming across a railway to cross is something I literally take in my stride – the toe curling level of ‘elf n safety NR is mollycoddling the public with is so injurious and I will need to sink a pint or two to calm down after I am bombarded by the guff eminating from the enunciator at the crossing, so for over 50 years the path existed before the railway, and was then quite sensibly accepted as a public crossing for another 150 years, presumably with no incidents. I have crossed many rural and mainline railways on public footpath crossings, and have never found anything beyond a simple wicket gate or stile to be necessary – Just look both ways, double check, cross quickly, checking all the time as you cross, and even on high speed lines, you will NEVER HAVE A PROBLEM.
    You of course allude to it in your article and I wholeheartedly agree that maybe some people who cannot follow the most basic precepts of being a sentient human being with free will should fall by the wayside for the sake of the gene pool…


    1. It is a gentle stroll and to be savoured – enjoy! The Railway or the Swan can help you with refreshment after the earache. But that annunciator does break the peace – I heard it about 50 yards off and was wondering WTF gives here. In the end if you’re going to cross the rails where there’s a few hundred tons of metalwork haring down at 80mph you damn well look, listen and mebbe ask yourself a second time if you feel good about this. If you’re too busy wrangling your phone then you’re tired of living… In any case the trains have to slow for the main road level crossing a few hundred yards down the line

      I was unable to find any record of accidents for this crossing. Indeed there’ve been more incidents at the road crossing, though of course there is more traffic there.

      So enjoy your walk – while you are still walking across fields rather than round the back of houses as will be the case in five years’ time!


    2. Hi,
      I actually walked the Fonnereau Way on 28th March, and came across no difficulties in crossing the land of the horsey person, I think there was a gap in a chain link fence, heading over a small piece of rough ground, then through a small wooden gate, and then down it’s drive – I was recording to video all the time, just in case things got ‘tasty’…
      I am upset that Lois came across difficulties – maybe horsey one has now gone full retard and put up a fence across the access?

      And, the crossing was so irritating I put up a youtube video about it….

      Happy trails,


      1. Glad it’s still passable. I’ll check it out again, running the gauntlet of the the annunciators (or annunciator as you seem to have found one down).

        The bit through the chain-link fence isn’t obvious and is made to look as private as possible, but now I have a copy of the definitive plan I’ll walk it again, just for the hell. I suspect Network rail will ice that eventually on the grounds of ‘elf ‘n’ safety, not to mention think of the children and then Wiseman will get the chance to sell up at a fat profit. On the plan there’s already a spur diverting it to the road, although I didn’t notice that on the ground when I recorded the annunciator.


  2. I tried to walk along the Fonnereau way today but as you come up to what is presumably the property you mention in your article the path seems to stop at a fence and there is no obvious way through. I didn’t pursue it very much as I was on my own and I was wary of a confrontation. Does anyone know if you can get through?


    1. D Wiseman of Broadacres lost the appeal in 2015 but seems to pursue her aim robustly despite having failed. I got through there several years ago but she had done her best to put people off. It is easier to travel this route egressing at Broadacres, I didn’t see any signs into it looking the other way.

      I guess the value of her house would skyrocket if she could claim there was no footpath. You might want to take the consultation plan along with you showing she is in error 😉


      1. I think I’ll try again, maybe with company! The signs marking the fonnereau way seem to have been taken off the post in the field before. I need to go back and find out


      2. Hi Lois,
        When I crossed on 28th March, The Annunciator on the South side was ‘working’ (unfortunately) but the north side was silent – not sure if these are run by solar panel charge, or if this is just suplemental to the normal power supply.

        Anyway, I guess that I would rather live with annunciators (as patronising as they are) rather than lose the crossing altogether – neither scenario is acceptable, but that is the shiny happy modern world!


      3. I’ve just walked that a day off the Summer solstice and neither annuciator was working, although I didn’t see the level crossing scattered with dead bodies or the line knee deep in dead dogs, so I presume they weren’t really necessary and common sense prevailed. Debbie Wiseman must either have moved on or given up, because I passed and repassed over the section going over her land, and while someonehad carefully parked their car obscuring the view of the gate for people coming from the Westerfield road there was no real impediment. Someone had even tried to sell eggs for £1/half dozen by the side of the path at some time.

        No trace this time of the barking dogs, just some geese with goslings that needed to be given a wide berth.

        The path is much easier to find in summer, there’s a clear desire line to follow in the fields just before her property (in the Ipswich to Westerfield direction).

        The path is slated to become a feature in the new Ipswich Garden Suburb development and the level crossing will be replaced with a bridge according to this document


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