RAILWAY bosses want to close a level crossing over safety fears following a spate of problems – including children “playing chicken” on the tracks.

They are looking into closing the footpath crossing over the railway at Chandler’s Ford alongside a number of others in Hampshire deemed as high risk.

Network Rail revealed the crossing had witnessed a number of near misses in recent years – many involving children.

Other incidents included missiles thrown at trains and reports of trespassing on the railway.

Concerns have been echoed by train drivers, who have been forced into doing emergency stops on numerous occasions.

Now talks are under way with Hampshire County Council about closing the crossing – something which will spark a public consultation if they progress.

Rail chiefs are working with South West Trains to look at closing 35 crossings across the Wessex region in the next five years, six of them in Hampshire.

It is part of a national project working towards closing 500 crossings by 2019 at a cost of £99m, which will be replaced by diversions or bridges.

One in Petersfield was replaced by a new footbridge last week.

Others under consideration are Farnborough North; Derby Green, near Yateley; Buriton, near Petersfield and Dunbridge, near Romsey.

Sharon Vye-Parminter, safety and assurance director for the Network Rail and South West Trains Alliance, said: “Drivers have been reporting to us a significant number of near misses there,” she said.

“If you put yourself in their shoes, these are significant incidents and drivers are very shaken by that.

“We have a responsibility for everybody on the railway and we always try to work with the community to make sure that they are using our crossings responsibly, but ultimately removing the risk of anybody getting injured on our railways is our prime goal.”