IT will be a blot on the landscape, claims a Romsey pensioner.

But Network Rail officials say a planned 20-metre high communications mast in a residential area of the town is essential for track safety following the the recommendations of reports following the Ladbroke Grove Junction and Paddington Station crashes.

However, Mrs Valerie Reid, who will be able to see the structure from her Winchester Road home, believes that Network Rail could have chosen a more discreet site than the embankment alongside Bridge Road.

She said: “It’s going to be an eyesore and I have to ask whether there are going to be any health implications with the mast. I went along to Test Valley’s planning office to find out more, but nobody knew anything about it.

“I know they need the mast for rail safety, but to stick it in the middle of a residential area is ridiculous. I feel it could be placed somewhere else, where it wont be so visible and dominate the landscape.”

A Network Rail spokesman said the proposed mast was part of a national railway communications system being rolled out across Britain. “For the very first time, the masts being installed by Network Rail will allow direct and continuous communication between drivers and signallers, considerably improving safety, reliability and punctuality for all passengers.”

He added: “When selecting a site for a communications mast, we take great care to evaluate the local environment and community issues, as well as choosing a site which mean strict operational requirement of the railway communications system.

“The selected site at Bridge Road is at a junction, to provide coverage along two separate lines of track. While the mast will be positioned in this residential area, this site is the most heavily screened by trees, as well as meeting technical requirements.”

The spokesman added that the structures were “not mobile phone” masts and, unlike signals from phone masts, the emissions from the proposed masts would be “directed along railway tracks” and complied with international safety regulations.

Network Rail plans to install the mast this summer.