MORE ROOM FOR MORE TRACK ON NORTH COTSWOLD LINE: Cotswold line

Friday 17 Jul 2009

MORE ROOM FOR MORE TRACK ON NORTH COTSWOLD LINE

Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western
A team of over 100 engineers will be out in full force starting this weekend to carry out a vital programme of preparatory work for the Cotswold line redoubling scheme.

This marks the first time that the scheme is being delivered on the ground. This first phase of work is vital to help facilitate the subsequent construction of the additional track and major infrastructure between Oxford - Worcester throughout 2010.

Engineers will be repositioning nearly 10 miles of existing track to make room for new ones; constructing 21 miles of new surface concrete cable route; installing 30 miles of new cable and relocating 60 sets of signal equipment.

In addition, engineers will also be installing an extra track through the 157 years old Chipping Camden tunnel (used to be Mickleton tunnel), designed by Brunel, using a unique state-of-the-art track construction train.

The work in the tunnel will include removal of the existing track, ballast and drainage system. More than 12,000 tonnes of materials will be removed from the 811m long tunnel. A new 2,000m drain will be installed to alleviate flooding in the future.

As part of its ongoing effort to reduce the impact of railway operation on the environment, Network Rail will be cleaning most of the existing ballast and recycling it after removing all the contaminants.

Chris Rayner, route director for Network Rail said: "We are not losing any time at all by carrying out the preparatory work while core engineering work is being designed.

“One of the biggest challenges for this first phase is finding the opportunity to carry out the work without disrupting the daily operation of the railway and the community. While it is never easy, the support from the train operators, freight operators and local authorities has helped tremendously. To minimise any disruptions, we will be constructing infrastructure off-site whenever possible; provide diversionary route as an alternative and carry out our work in phases without having to close a long stretch of line at one time.”

Transport Minister Chris Mole said:"Passengers who use the North Cotswolds line and Great Western Mainline will see real improvements to their journeys once this work is complete.

"This important multimillion pound project will revitalize local services and increase reliability. It is an excellent illustration of the Government's determination to continue to improve our railway network.”

First Great Western’s project manager for the scheme, Martin Barnett said: “The North Cotswolds line is a particularly congested part of the railway, which means small delays tend to have more of an effect on our customers than they should.

“Once complete in early 2011, the redoubling of the track will provide extra capacity for more trains to carry more customers should demand continue to increase, and help sustain improved performance in the area.

This programme of preparatory work will take six weeks (18 July – 1 September) while the design of the core engineering work is being carried out.

There will always be a mode of transport available to passengers, whether it’s via bus or train through a diversionary route, when the improvement work is being carried out. The services are operated by First Great Western and will be able to support the same number of passengers during normal services.

Passengers are advised to check with National Rail Enquiries or First Great Western on the time-table before they travel. The time-table of the alternative services are also available at stations on the route.

Details of the alternative services are:

Oxford to Worcester, 18 July – 2 August 2009 and 24 August – 31 August 2009

- Replacement buses between Oxford and Worcester

- Trains from London Paddington to Worcester will travel via a diversionary route, not calling at Oxford.

- Moreton – Evesham, 3 August – 23 August 2009

- Train services between London, Oxford and Moreton-in-Marsh

- Train services between Worcester (or Great Malvern) and Evesham.

- Replacement buses between Moreton and Evesham.

- Trains from London Paddington and Worcester Shrub Hill will be diverted via Swindon and will not call at Oxford.

Notes to editors

Since the Oxford Worcester and Wolverhampton line was singled in the late 1960s, the existing track now follows a route that consists of sections of the old south-bound or north-bound lines. In many places these existing tracks have also been ‘centred’, leaving insufficient track bed for the new lines to be laid. Therefore the challenge is to reposition the existing track whilst constructing a formation fit for both lines.

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