Residents in the Blackthorn and Piddington area of Oxfordshire are invited to a public information event to find out more about work to stabilise a four mile stretch of embankment on the Chiltern main line.
Starting on 4 November, Network Rail will carry out the vital strengthening work which will help Chiltern Railways and freight operators continue to run a safe and punctual service on the line between London and the West Midlands.
The £30million investment will involve putting in place 100,000 tonnes of rock along the 3.9 mile-long embankment to strengthen it and prevent landslips which would close the line and disrupt services. The embankment was built in the 1900s and the demands placed on it by a modern railway are much greater, with more trains using the line than ever before.
Throughout the work, passengers will be unaffected as trains will continue to run as normal.
The public information event will take place on 23 October between 2pm and 6.30pm at Piddington Village Hall, Lugershall Road, Piddington, Bicester, OX25 1PU. Network Rail will be on hand to answer questions and provide more information to local people.
Luke Swain, senior asset engineer at Network Rail, said: “As part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, we’re investing £30million to upgrade nearly four miles of embankment along the Chiltern main line through Oxfordshire.
“It is essential work and 100,000 tonnes of rock will be used to stabilise the embankment to help keep passenger and freight trains moving safely and reliably.
“I look forward to meeting local people at our drop-in session and telling them more about this project.”
The major strengthening work is due to start in the Cherwell Borough side of the railway on 4 November. It will then move on to Aylesbury Vale, once planning has been approved. Due to the scale of the work, the upgrade is expected to take around a year to complete.
The work is needed to secure the stability of the embankment. During dry and wet weather, the clay slopes contract and expand, causing the track above to move slightly. While frequent repairs have been made, a robust and lasting engineering solution is needed.
Without disrupting train services, the embankments will be bolstered using a combination of rock fill material and a ‘sheet piled’ retaining wall. Both solutions will support the original embankment and significantly reduce the further movement of the clay.
To access the railway, Network Rail is building a new haulage road made up of 60,000 tonnes of stone. This new access point will also be used to access and maintain the railway in future.