Cotswolds MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Peter Luff MP for Mid Worcestershire met with senior representatives from Network Rail on Wednesday to discuss the re-doubling of both the Cotswold and Swindon to Kemble railway lines.
The MPs were informed that an in-depth feasibility study had been undertaken on both lines, which highlighted not only the weakness in the current setup, but the imperative for development to take place to accommodate changes elsewhere on the network.
On the Cotswold line the improvements to the line where it enters Oxford and to dual the section between Evesham and Charlbury could begin early next year, subject to approval by the Office of Rail Regulation. Both MPs gave this a guarded welcome as they are keen to ensure that the developments are the beginning of a scheme to re-double the whole of the line from Oxford to Worcester to deliver a genuine half hourly service.
On the issue of the need to double the twelve and a half mile stretch of single track between Kemble and Swindon, Network Rail were emphatic that the scheme is as important as that on the Cotswold line. However, this stretch presents a bigger engineering challenge as the line has never been dual track.
Were the scheme to be given the green light, it would enable a service of four trains an hour in either direction, produce savings of £0.3 million per year at the Minety level crossing and provide a diversionary route were there to be service problems around Bristol or in Wales. Significantly, the developments are seen as a prerequisite to allowing the introduction of the new Intercity Service Trains.
It is unclear whether or not both schemes would be able to proceed at the same time. Network Rail expressed their desire to see both schemes completed by 2010 subject to clearing the regulatory hurdles.
Mr Clifton-Brown welcomed this positive news on both schemes, though he stressed that neither are yet a foregone conclusion. The MP is urging anyone with an interest in seeing the schemes proceed to write to:-
Office of Rail Regulation
One Kemble Street
Mr Clifton-Brown speaking afterwards said “Following the disappointment of my adjournment debate on the A417 on Monday, it seems there may finally be some news to hearten my constituents who get flustrated on a daily basis by the Government’s failure to improve our inadequate transport network”
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP (Cotswold)
Source: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown