We're modernising the Great Western route to bring passengers faster, more frequent, more reliable services.

The project includes upgrading our infrastructure so that the route can be electrified.

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

What we’re doing

Piling work

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.

More about our work to electrify the railway

Work on bridges and other structures

Steventon High Street Bridge

Work will be starting on Monday 30 April 2018 to increase the height of the existing parapets for safety reasons and to comply with European standards. It is anticipated that the work will be completed by Friday 25 May 2018. Please refer to the attached letter for further details including the full work schedule.

Work dates and locations

When we are carrying out piling work in the Oxfordshire area, details will be shown below. 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

Swindon weekend upgrade work between March and May 2018

Chilterns and North Wessex Downs AONB (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 (AONB), 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 AONB, and we are working with Natural England and the AONB 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 allow for 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.

Public exhibitions postponed

Network Rail has been working with an Advisory Group of Natural England and AONB Conservation Boards to agree how we can manage the visual impact of the new electrification overhead lines in the Chilterns and North Wessex Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We have jointly agreed to postpone the planned public drop in sessions until further notice to enable us to jointly undertake further work.

Visual Amenity Review

To view the Visual Amenity Review – Phase 1 Options Report (Improving the Aesthetic Appearance of Overhead Line Equipment) in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty please view the specified documents below.

Visual Amenity Review – Phase 1 Options Report

Visual Amenity Review – Phase 1 Report
332 KB
Appendix 1 – workshop slide extract
1 MB
Appendix 2 – list of options generated
12 KB
Appendix 3 – phase 1 assessment template
11 KB
Appendix 4 – summary of assessments
18 KB
Appendix 6 – individual assessment
425 KB
Appendix 7a – map Cotswolds North West
1 MB
Appendix 7b – map North Wessex Downs and Chilterns AONB
764 KB
Appendix 7b – map Cotswolds AONB
947 KB
Appendix 8 – log of issues raised by Chilterns AONB and Natural England
25 KB

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.

Culham Farm Bridge

Three track lower option being progressed and we will update lineside neighbours once the preferred option is chosen.

Baulking Road Bridge

We have been working with Oxfordshire County Council and Baulking Parish Council to agree the design for the required parapet extensions. We expect to start work on site in mid-December.

Denchworth Road Bridge

We have been working with Oxfordshire County Council to agree the design for the required parapet extensions. We expect to start work on site in mid-December.

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 reopened as soon as possible.