WORK is on track to complete a £45m project allowing more trains to run between Swindon and Kemble.
The new infrastructure, which is due to be completed by April 2014, will increase capacity, allowing for the operation of four trains per hour in each direction – rather than trains only travelling in one direction on the line at a time.
The planned work will include the reinstatement of the second line between Swindon and Kemble, upgrade earthworks along the route to accommodate this new 12-mile track, and new signalling equipment.
Paul Stanford, customer relationship executive at Network Rail, said: “This re-doubling work involves putting back lines that were lifted in 1968.
“The start of works at Kemble is in contrast to the dark days of 1964 when the branch lines from Kemble to Tetbury and Cirencester were closed and the subsequent affliction of the removal of one line from Kemble to Swindon in 1968 under British Railways.
“Now, nearly 50 years later, with continued growth in passenger rail usage – surpassing that on the UK rail network in the 1920s – and the wider Network Rail enhancement works in the Western region now occurring, we are in an era of new railway works unthinkable in the region 25 years ago.
“From April 2014, things will be very different. Trains will be able to come from Kemble to Swindon without having to wait for a train coming in the other direction to pass.”
The new capability will be essential during the planned electrification of the Great Western mainline when Bristol Parkway and the Severn Tunnel are closed and South Wales trains are diverted along this route over future years.
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: “This work is extremely good news for Swindon. I campaigned hard together with other local MPs to make sure funding was made available. It is very important considering the growth in use of trains to and from Swindon.
“Overcrowding is a big issue and passengers facing increased peak fare costs want to see something in return. This project will deliver the important connectivity and frequency that passengers need.
“It is a great day for the railway network. Not just for Kemble and Swindon but for the South West and the whole country.”
The project, which is being supported by delivery partner Colas Rail Morgan Sindall and train operator First Great Western, will see some rail services being affected.
From March 25, the last train in each direction between Swindon and Gloucester/Cheltenham will be replaced by road transport on Monday to Thursday nights until December 5.
From 11.55pm on August 9 until 5am on September 2, rail services will be replaced by road transport between Swindon and Kemble.
At weekends during this period, trains will be replaced by road transport between Gloucester and Swindon.
Passengers are advised to check their travel plans online at www.networkrail.co.uk or by contacting First Great Western customer services on 08457 000125 or visiting www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk