Network Rail has reopened the line between Banbury, Bicester, and Leamington Spa following completion of £76m track and signalling upgrade on the Chiltern main line.
The line was closed for nine days for modernisation work, which is part of Network Rail's £40bn Upgrade Plan. Work included installation of a modern signalling system through Banbury, which will be controlled from the West Midlands Signalling Centre in Birmingham.
Network Rail also installed 24 new sections allowing trains to change from one track to another. In total, 14,000m new rail was laid and 50,000t of ballast was used.
Network Rail's area director Martin Ball said: “This work was completed on time and with the least amount of disruption to passengers and is an important part of modernising the railway through the area to provide passengers with a more reliable, better railway.
“Our engineers worked quickly and safely to complete this work on time and on budget and we worked closely with the train operators involved to carefully plan these improvements to cause the least amount of disruption to passengers.”
In addition, a fourth platform was built to allow for greater capacity and flexibility at Banbury station. This also provides infrastructure required for a new depot south of Banbury, which will offer essential maintenance provisions for the growing Chiltern Railways fleet, the company said in a statement.
Chiltern Railways' managing director Dave Penney said: “The work at Banbury was an essential investment in the long term reliability of the railway and was successfully delivered on time.
"Through a modernisation of the signalling system, Chiltern Railways services can remain some of the most punctual in the country.”
Image: New track and signalling at Banbury. Photo: © Network Rail.