Railway bosses have apologised and backtracked on closing a historic 168-year-old level crossing in Charlton after they were blasted by Greenwich Council.

More than 200 people backed a campaign to retain the Angerstien foot crossing after it was earmarked for sudden closure by Network Rail earlier this week.

Greenwich Council called on the firm to halt the closure of the listed crossing, one of only two of its kind left in London.

The level crossing between Farmdale and Fairthorn Roads allows commuters to get to and from Westcombe Park station.

Greenwich Council said Network Rail had not followed procedure, adding that it will be exploring enforcement options.

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A spokesman said: “The pedestrian crossing serves as an essential link between both sides of the railway line and has been in place, and in good use, for over 100 years.

“Whilst we recognise the attempt to improve safety and reduce pedestrian access to railway lines, we object to the closure unless full details are provided and a suitable alternative is provided.

“The crossing cannot be closed without consultation and a formal legal process. We were not made aware of the proposed works, which we should have been.

“We have written to Network Rail to request postponing the crossing closure until alternative options explored and until much better publicity has been issued locally. We will also be taking advice about enforcement options.”

Petitioners were also pressuring for the historic pathway to be kept open, with its use dating back to 1851.

A campaign on Change.Org says: “The pedestrian crossing is an important pedestrian link that allows pedestrians to avoid the busy and polluted Woolwich Road.

“It is used every day by many local residents to access Westcombe Park station

“Network Rail have sent neighbours a letter saying that the crossing will be closed this Saturday, 13 April 2019.

“Only one week’s notice has been given, there has been no consultation and no apology.”

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Network Rail has since U-turned on closing the crossing permanently, and said it will review the situation.

A spokesman said: “We would like to apologise for the lack of meaningful engagement with local people around the proposed closure of Angerstein footpath crossing and have decided to stop the closure process until a review has taken place.

“We planned to close the crossing, near Westcombe Park station, as part of £55m project to upgrade signalling and track on the lines from Deptford to Woolwich Arsenal and Lewisham to Falconwood, and increase the freight capacity at Angerstein Wharf.

“The increase in freight traffic and the fact trains will now straddle the crossing when stopped at red signals, presents a very real risk to the public, which we take very seriously.

“The crossing will be blocked while our engineers are working on the line over the Easter weekend, however, it will not close permanently at this point.

“We will provide a further update on long-term plans, as soon as a review has taken place”