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  • Oxfordshire

  • Last updated 26 May 2016. This page will be updated regularly.

    Modernising the Great Western route

    We’re modernising the Great Western route to bring passengers faster, more frequent and more reliable services. The project includes upgrading our infrastructure so that the route can be electrified.

    This page shows the work we’ll be doing in Oxfordshire and when it’s due to take place.

    What we’re doing

    To enable the route to be electrified, we’re installing supporting masts and overhead lines, and preparing the foundations for these (‘piling’). We’ll also be modifying some of the bridges and other structures on the route to create the extra height needed for the overhead lines.

    Work dates and locations

    Piling work

    We're undertaking piling work in the areas shown below from Sunday 22 to Sunday 29 May 2016.  Please note that the schedule could change at short notice for operational reasons.

    Before starting this work we may need to clear overgrown vegetation running alongside the line. Find out more about why and how we manage vegetation

    Grove Park (Wantage) to Brook Lane, Denchworth

    Sunday 22 - Monday 23 May 2016
    9.00pm - 05.30am
    Local Authority:Vale of White Horse

    Stainswick Lane (SN6 8LB) to Lower Bourton

    Sunday 22 - Monday 23 May 2016
    9.30pm - 05.20am
    Local Authority:Vale of White Horse        

    Ardington Lane Bridge, Wantage to Challow

    Monday 23 - Thursday 26 May 2016
    9.00pm - 05.30am
    Local Authority:Vale of White Horse  

    Didcot Power Station to West of Steventon

    Saturday 28 - Sunday 29 May 2016
    11:00pm - 09:00am
    Local Authority:Vale of White Horse 

    Stainswick Lane (SN6 8LB) to Lower Bourton

    Saturday 28 - Sunday 29 May 2016
    11:00pm - 09:00am
    Local Authority:Vale of White Horse 

    Chilterns and North Wessex Downs AONBs (including South Stoke and Goring Gap)

    We have started installing the electrification apparatus between Reading and Didcot. This section of track runs through both the Chilterns and North Wessex Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), including the South Stoke and Goring Gap areas.

    The Secretary of State for Transport recently announced that Network Rail’s electrification programme of the Great Western Mainline is of particular importance and that the Reading to Didcot section, as the test track for the new trains, is a  top priority.  We are therefore continuing with the installation of the overhead line equipment  to ensure the successful testing of those new trains on the electrified railway. 

    However, Network Rail does recognise the importance of conserving the AONBs, and we are working with Natural England and theAONB Conservation Boards as we explore designs that reduce the visual impact of electrification within these special landscapes. Developing these alternative designs is a complex process that involves balancing their appearance with safety, reliability and operational efficiency issues, but we have committed to consult with local communities when the design options are ready. Any works to modify the apparatus already installed to allowfor the train testing will be undertaken retrospectively, subject to funding agreements; we have written to the Conservation Boards to confirm this, and a copy of the letter can be found here.

    Details of the consultation will be published here as soon as dates are confirmed.

    Work on bridges and other structures 


    If you'd like to find out more, why not come along to one of our drop-in sessions? We'll be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

    Structure Drop-in session Closure date(s) Diversion Additional information
    Wantage Road (A338) Drop-in session held 02/10/14 Overnight / weekend road closures required (Autumn 2015) to connect the road to the new bridge. No diversion required. New bridge to be constructed before existing bridge is demolished.
    Lengthy road closure will be avoided.
    Major construction work has started and the new bridge is expected to open July 2016
    A338 Wantage Road factsheet October 2014 PDF(200 KB)
    Steventon High St (B4017) Drop-in session held 16/09/14

    Open meeting held 11/11/14
    Under review - We are reviewing the scheme proposals for Steventon High Street and looking again at the implications of an alternative to reconstruction, particularly those relating to operation of the railway.
    Thame Lane, Culham tbc Dates under review - The solution for this bridge is currently under review for potential track lower.
    Shrivenham Bridge -

    Closed from 24 October - April 2016

    No long-term diversion required. The bridge is closed to undertake night time working for the installation of the new bridge decks, parapets, dismantling of the existing bridge and highway surfacing works.
    Hanney Crossing  Date tbc Temporary Byway closure for ground investigation works 20/01/15 - 02/02/15 - Bridge removal scheduled for Christmas 2015 and due to complete June 2016.

    Working responsibly

    We know that our work to improve the railway may cause some disruption and noise for local communities. We do our very best to limit this and appreciate your patience and understanding.

    For example, we often have to carry out some of the work at night when trains aren’t running. This is because we’re contractually obliged to work at times that have the least impact on passenger services, and because we must ensure the safety of our workforce. 

    If roads or footpaths need to be closed temporarily because of bridge work, we agree diversionary routes with the local council. And we are committed to completing the work quickly, so the road can be re-opened as soon as possible.