The Swindon to Kemble railway line is to be doubled and new signalling equipment installed.
Network Rail’s £45m project to upgrade the line between Swindon and Gloucester via Kemble and Stroud will increase capacity allowing for the operation of four trains per hour in each direction. Planned work will include upgrading earthworks along the route to accommodate new track and signalling equipment.
The extra capacity will be essential during the planned electrification of the Great Western main line when Bristol Parkway and Severn Tunnel are closed and south Wales trains are diverted along this route.
Says Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail’s Western route managing director, ‘Initial work has already started and during these operations where possible the railway will remain open. The line of route between Swindon and Kemble was double track up until the late 1960s, when a decline in passenger demand led to the singling of the line. Over the intervening years passenger demand has grown significantly and this scheme will meet the demand forecast over the next 30 years.’
The project should be complete by Easter 2014. Control of signalling on the line will transfer to the new control centre at Didcot. Local leaders have welcomed the scheme. Says Justin Tomlinson, MP for Swindon North, ‘This is major infrastructure investment will provide a big boost to Swindon’s economy. I am delighted that the work is now getting underway.’