UK’s Network Rail has opened the newly redoubled Swindon to Kemble railway line, in a bid to offer improved passenger service, increased reliability and reduced journey times.
Work on this £45m project began in 2013 and included the restoration of the second line and improvements on the earthworks along the route to accommodate a new track and signalling equipment.
For this project, Network Rail’s ‘orange army’ has deployed a total of 215,000t of ballast, 60,000m of rail and 70,000 new sleepers to re-establish the second line that was removed in 1968.
The project was funded by the UK Department for Transport and the line will be operated by First Great Western.
UK Rail Minister Claire Perry said: "Continuing to invest in our railways is an important part of our long-term economic plan. Over the next five years, more than £38bn will be spent to get more trains, more seats and more services for passengers."
The other works under this project include the installation of additional signals between Kemble and Standish Junction, the renovation of the level crossing at Minety and Purton Collins Lane and the installation of a footbridge in Stroud.
First Great Western managing director Mark Hopwood said: "This improvement work to the network infrastructure paves the way for faster, more reliable services and makes the most of the government’s planned investment in electrification and new trains."
The project will be crucial when Bristol Parkway and the Severn Tunnel are closed for electrification of the Great Western main line. South Wales trains running along this route are likely to be diverted.
Image: HRH The Princess Royal unveils plaque to mark the official opening of the redoubled Swindon to Kemble line. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.