As officers continue to investigate an alleged double sex attack in the subway below Newport railway station, we ask whether the underpass is too dangerous to keep open. AILSA CHALK reports.
RUNNING from Devon Place at the rear of the station to the front of the old station on Queensway, it is easy to see why some people may find this subway intimidating.
The entrances are shielded from viewby steps on Queensway and a ramp on the Devon Place side and a bend in the middle prevents a clear viewthrough the subway itself.
Although it is lit, many of the lights are broken or out and graffiti covers much of the walls.
Lisa Weaver from the Gaer, said: “I don’t use it very often. It’s normally well lit, but it’s still scary when you are on your own. It’s not very safe. It would definitely be better there was a footbridge.”
Peter Griffiths, 68, of Rhiwderin said: “It doesn’t bother me, but I knowit does worry some women. I think it was safer when it went all the way through to Cambrian Road.”
Irene Warden, 54, from Newport, said she tries to get through the subway “as quickly as possible” whenever she uses it.
Newport council leader Cllr MatthewEvans said he has campaigned for the refurbishment of the old station’s Victorian footbridge, which is currently closed, for a number of years.
He said the refurbishment was included in original plans for the newstation, but was put on the “backburner.”
Mr Evans said: “It has been a hobby horse for me to ensure that a footbridge replaces the subway. It’s not an ideal situation. I’m not an advocate for shutting things down when there is nothing to replace them, but I think it’s in everyone’s interests that it closes.”
He said the height of the ceiling in the subway meant it was not high enough for CCTV and the onus was now on allocating funding for a bridge.
A Network Rail spokeswoman said responsibility for the maintenance of the subway lies with the council and discussions were still being had to allocate funding to refurbish the old footbridge.
Police are combing footage
BRITISH Transport Police were last night continuing to examine CCTV footage from the train station itself and the city centre in connection with the incident.
A spokesman confirmed a woman contacted Gwent Police at around 4.10am on Sunday to say a man attempted to sexually assault her and shortly after 5am another woman reported she had been attacked.
Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact British Transport Police on 0800 405040, Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Avoid this dark subway
WE HAVE believed for a long time that the Newport subway which was the scene of two sex attacks at the weekend is a dangerous place.
We realise it is a direct link from Devon Place to the city shopping and nightlife area and vice versa.
We visited the subway yesterday.
The entrances are shielded from view by steps in Queensway and a ramp on the Devon Place side.
There is no clear view through the subway itself.
While there are lights for those using it at night, many are broken.
People we spoke to said they would never use it alone.
Some people clearly do though.
For two sex attacks to be carried out in the same place on the same night is extremely worrying.
It quite clearly shows that this is not a safe place at quiet times.
We believe now is the time to close it off at night.
It may cause some inconvenience but safety concerns outweigh that, surely?
There has been talk of the old Victorian footbridge being refurbished and reopened.
In the meantime we would urge people to simply not use the subway late at night.
It is not worth the risk.