Around £70m will be invested over the next two years to transform the North Cotswold line, with the redoubling scheme leading the way as it moves into the next vital phase.
Network Rail has finalised the next phase of work for the North Cotswold redoubling scheme and is now tendering for contracts, bringing job prospects to the rail industry.
By 2011, there will be extra capacity, potentially for more trains to run hourly, and improved reliability on North Cotswold rail services. Passengers at Charlbury, Ascott-under-Wychwood and Honeybourne will also benefit from a bigger, bright and accessible station with improved facilities, including new platforms with step-free access, new lighting and real-time digital passenger information systems.
Network Rail is also boosting these improvements by investing nearly £3m extra to renew life-expired track near Ascott-under-Wychwood and Evesham and to spruce up stations at Kingham, Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham.
The track renewal work at Ascott-under-Wychwood and Evesham will begin this June, followed by the improvement work to redouble parts of North Cotswold this autumn.
Mike Gallop, principal programme sponsor, Network Rail said: “Network Rail is committed to improving passenger experiences and our investment on North Cotswold is part of that effort to make that a reality for passengers. We are investing in growth and we are investing in the future.
“After months of planning and preparation, we are very eager to start work on site again to complete the scheme. We will do all we can to keep passenger inconvenience to an absolute minimum. I look forward to seeing the gradual transformation as work progresses over the next two years.”
Mark Hopwood, managing director, First Great Western said: “This is great news for local rail users and First Great Western welcomes these plans. First Great Western continues to support Network Rail in the planning and delivery of this key project and is currently working with them to progress North Cotswold operational plans.”
As part of the North Cotswold scheme, the line from Ascott-under-Wychwood to east of Charlbury and from Moreton-in-Marsh to Evesham will be redoubled with 21 miles of track.
The current token exchange signalling systems along the route will be upgraded with new axle counter technology to improve the reliability of the infrastructure. Signalling control panels at Evesham and Ascott-under-Wychwood will be modernised with digital equipment.
The level crossings at Littleton and Badsey, Chipping Campden, Blockley and Ascott will also be modernised with new barriers and lights.
Network Rail will be tendering contracts for track, signalling, stations, telecoms and plant installations by late summer this year. The company will also soon be submitting applications to West Oxfordshire District Council, Wychavon District Council and Cotswold District Council to seek prior approval for the improvement work at Honeybourne and Charlbury stations.
Around 90% of the work in the next phase of the redoubling scheme will be carried out overnight when trains are not running.
Network Rail is investing around £67m on the North Cotswold redoubling scheme.