The £45 million upgrade of the Swindon-Kemble line has been completed, with improvements including reinstatement of the second line, earthworks to allow for the new track, and new signalling equipment.
The work will increase capacity on the line to meet forecast growth in passenger demand, with a more reliable service leading to a reduction in delays.
It will also enable trains from South Wales to be diverted along the route, when Bristol Parkway station and the Severn Tunnel have to close for planned electrification on this part of the Great Western Main Line.
Additional signals have also been provided between Kemble and Standish Junction, level crossings at Minety and Purton Collins Lane have been upgraded, and a new footbridge has been installed at Stroud.
“Passengers can look forward to fewer delays and reduced journey times in future. It also means we can minimise the disruption caused by our electrification work, and ensure the region gets maximum benefit from a modern, electric railway,” said Simon Maple, Network Rail’s route programme and project sponsor.
NR started the redoubling scheme on the line in January 2013, as part of the overall programme of improvements on the GWML.
The route between Swindon and Kemble was double-track up until the late 1960s, when a decline in passengers led to it being reduced to a single line. Since then, demand has increased significantly, and NR says the new upgrade will meet the forecast demand for the next 30 years.
When work began, it was expected that it would be complete by Easter 2014, to coincide with major signalling renewal.
At the time, NR said: “The very high volume of works during Easter nationally, coupled with ongoing remedial work from flooding earlier this year, means our engineering resources will now be operating at full capacity during one of the busiest phases of the Swindon to Kemble redoubling scheme.
“To minimise risk to the work, and avoid the possibility of unnecessary inconvenience to customers, we are now working towards completing the scheme between Swindon and Kemble by August 2014, rather than Easter as originally planned.”
NR spokesman Victoria Bradley told RAIL: “While we were completing the enhancement work to redouble the line, we used this opportunity to also do some core renewals. As a result, the cost of the full programme is still being finalised.”
- This news story was published in RAIL on 17 September 2014