IT'S BEEN branded one of the UK's most dangerous rail crossings. Now the gated pedestrian crossing at Wareham rail station is to remain closed every evening after 6pm due to staff shortages meaning there will be no step-free access over the line after that time.

Frustrated residents learned the news from a hand-written notice which appeared earlier this week saying the route's safety gates would be shut from August 4 to August 13 from 6pm to 6am.

Dorset Council's road safety manager, Michael Potter, said: "The reduced opening hours are because one of the two operators is on leave. We are working with STM (the company contracted to provide crossing attendants) to cover this leave and recruit more crossing operators.

"Due to the qualification needed for this job there aren’t many people available and recent attempts to recruit by STM have unfortunately been unsuccessful. Currently the gates will be operated from 6am to 6pm, but this is subject to change."

He said it was regrettable that the council are not able to keep the crossing fully open for the next week.

"However it is important that we ensure crossing operators are working sensible hours and providing a service that best ensures that safety of the people choosing to use the level crossing."

Members of the North Wareham Action Group took to social media to voice their concerns.

Nikki McGee said: "This has implications for people getting home from work, shift workers getting to work as well as people accessing Wareham Wednesdays." She vowed to raise it at the local council's planning meeting.

Another poster wondered what would happen to people who had to assist disabled family members. And others speculated whether it was a "conspiracy" to get rid of the crossing which has been at the centre of controversy for years.

It has had more than three times the number of incidents occurring than any other crossing in the South West area. In 2009 it was the subject of a parliamentary question and in January a 12-year-old boy narrowly avoided being hit by a train.

Network Rail said it was part of a national programme of closures and was in talks with Dorset and Purbeck councils about an alternative route.

However, locals want to retain a level crossing because of the difficulty in negotiating the traditional footbridge.

If you'd like to apply for the crossing job contact STM Security Group on 0203 597 4256 or email”