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Redoubling of Gloucestershire rail line between Kemble to Swindon delayed

By The Citizen  |  Posted: February 08, 2014

Comments (3)

A £45 million project to end the "West's rail bottleneck" and boost the economy of Gloucestershire will take four months longer than first planned after engineers were called away to deal with repair works elsewhere.

The project to "re-double" an 11-mile section of railway will not now be finished until August, rather than the planned completion date of this Easter.

The work between Swindon and Kemble was delayed by a host of problems, including bad weather and a de-railed engineering train. And because the teams from the Kemble project have been assigned new engineering works jobs for Easter, they will take a break and return later to finish the job during the summer.

The line through north Wiltshire connects Stroud, Stonehouse, Gloucester and Cheltenham with the Great Western mainline at Swindon, but the service to the capital from Gloucestershire has been limited – something that politicians and business leaders said was holding the county back economically.

The line was made a single-track line in the 1960s and after years of lobbying for the work to take place, money was eventually found – primarily from the controversial ditching of the £35 million road bypass of Westbury, further south in Wiltshire.

The doubling of the line will mean electrification work can also take place, but politicians said the news of the delay was "frustrating".

A spokesman for Network Rail, which is dealing with a similar four-month delay on a single project to replace a bridge on the mainline on the Wiltshire-South Gloucestershire border at Acton Turville, said a high volume of engineering and problems with the wet winter caused the delay.

"We are now working towards completing the scheme between Swindon and Kemble by August, rather than Easter," he added.

Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said he had been monitoring the work just over the border. "Obviously I am very disappointed with this news. I will be pressing Network Rail to make sure that the completion date does not slip any further," he said.

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  • leefarrow  |  February 10 2014, 8:21PM

    The important thing is that the "re-doubling" is being done. The REAL reason why is irrelevant. If the demand is there there is no reason why the service cannot be improved in the long term, without re-doubling any improvement in service would be a non-starter.

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  • Apothegm_  |  February 08 2014, 4:36PM

    Surely you must realise that ALL good things that happen are solely due to the untiring efforts of the local MP? If something goes wrong it is always the fault of the opposing party on the local council. It's called "politics", and that is why there is so much apathy about voting.

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  • NotThis  |  February 08 2014, 2:57PM

    It really annoys me that local politicians are trying to make mileage out of this. If you read into it more detail the re-doubling will not lead to any increase in services or shortening of journey times. Perhaps a minor benefit in allowing the network to recover more quickly after an incident. The REAL reason the doubling is being done is for Network Rails own purposes. They need somewhere to route trains through whilst electrifying the Severn Tunnel. The single line can't accommodate the temporary increase in traffic. Nothing more than that. To think that Network Rail will be motivated to speed things up due to a letter from the MP is hilarious. Honestly, actual laugh out loud stuff!

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