Rail line projects schedule is scrapped

Herald Series: MP Ed Vaizey MP Ed Vaizey

THE timetable for a rail scheme that could cause months of disruption for the county’s motorists has been scrapped.

Network Rail has said a schedule it gave for rebuilding 28 bridges in the county is “out the window” after it admitted the original plans were not right.

But the company has now said that communities may only get four weeks’ notice – rather than the months of advance warning people were given when the plans were first revealed.

The scheme caused dismay after plans were announced late last year, with people worried about road disruption and councils raising fears about a lack of consultation.

The rail infrastruture company has now promised to give “at least” four weeks’ notice for each road closure.

But unlike in December, when the whole plan for the works was shown, there will be no full schedule released in one go.

The firm has said it will redraw the timetable after admitting the original one was “misleading”.

The company needs to modify or rebuild the bridges over the next four years as part of its £1bn electrification of the Great Western Mainline from London to Cardiff.

To put in overhead electric lines to power new trains, the company needs to raise several Victorian bridges by several feet.

It will need to close 19 roads, possibly for up to four months at a time, and in December gave the Oxford Mail a timetable for possible closures.

But senior project manager Nigel Fenn has now said: “Those dates are all out the window.

“They were misleading. They would have been formulated over a year ago and train operating companies have produced new timetables since then.”

Mr Fenn said Network Rail has to notify the train operators of engineering work as much as two years in advance and work around their timetables – which have now changed since the original plans were made.

The line between London and Oxford via Didcot is due to be electrified by January 1, 2017.

The rest of the main line from Didcot to Bristol and South Wales, including the Oxfordshire stretch to Swindon, must be finished by January 1, 2018.

Under plans first revealed late last year, Network Rail said it could begin work on several schemes in the county at the start of 2014.

However, only one of those schemes has so far begun – at Fulscot Bridge in South Moreton – and all the other schemes that will take place over the next four years have yet to start.

Network Rail’s head of consents and environment, Nia Griffiths, said two or three Oxfordshire bridge modifications would start in the next six months, but the only one the company could reveal was a footbridge at Goring and Streatley station.

The firm said it does not need to consult – but is doing so anyway.

Mr Fenn said: “We have permitted development rights. I can do whatever I like to the bridge, and we are given those rights by the Government.

“But we don’t like to enforce that and cause trouble.”

But the mayor of Wantage, Fiona Roper, said the town council had never been consulted over plans to raise Station Road bridge north of Grove by 1.3 metres.

She said: “I think it is a shame they haven’t approached us. I am assuming they’re going to a higher level, the county council, but it would be nice to have a say.”

In January, Oxfordshire County Council rejected an application by Network Rail to close the road for up to six months from February 10, forcing Network Rail to look into other ways to carry out the work.

At the moment, the last road closure is due to begin at Christmas 2015.

Ms Griffiths said: “We will give the Oxford Mail the dates for each of them as early as we can, which is as soon as it has been agreed with the county council.”

Wantage and Didcot MP Ed Vaizey, said: “I’m very concerned about the process Network Rail is undertaking.

“There is a lot of evidence that it has not been well managed elsewhere. I am still trying to secure a meeting with them, but they are proving elusive. My constituents cannot afford the chaos and disruption which seems likely to take place without proper planning.”

Network Rail spokeswoman Anne-Marie Batson said: “This programme is really fluid.

“One day we might say one thing then a week later it is something else but there is always a reason behind that.”

Comments (7)

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9:32am Tue 18 Feb 14

icba1957 says...

Perhaps Mr Vaizey needs to be reminded which party privatised the rail industry, and created the monster that is Network Rail.
And Ms Roper needs to be reminded who her MP is ...
Perhaps Mr Vaizey needs to be reminded which party privatised the rail industry, and created the monster that is Network Rail. And Ms Roper needs to be reminded who her MP is ... icba1957

11:28am Tue 18 Feb 14

EMBOX2 says...

"which party privatised the rail industry, and created the monster that is Network Rail."

Labour created Network Rail, one of the few good things they did.

Anyway, either we want the railways upgraded or we don't. If we do, then we have to accept disruption. If not, we have to accept economic implications. My choice is simple.

What this country must learn, however, is to do works 24/7/365 until completed. Get it done ASAP.
"which party privatised the rail industry, and created the monster that is Network Rail." Labour created Network Rail, one of the few good things they did. Anyway, either we want the railways upgraded or we don't. If we do, then we have to accept disruption. If not, we have to accept economic implications. My choice is simple. What this country must learn, however, is to do works 24/7/365 until completed. Get it done ASAP. EMBOX2

1:46pm Tue 18 Feb 14

downsview says...

Yes get it done but only if the new bridge is designed to be compatible with the restoration of Grove Road station along with a separate foot/cyclepath
Yes get it done but only if the new bridge is designed to be compatible with the restoration of Grove Road station along with a separate foot/cyclepath downsview

4:04pm Tue 18 Feb 14

King Joke says...

Re-writing the schedule of works has got as much to do with the huge volume of repairs caused by floods and storms as it has to do with anything else. A lot of maintenance and renewals are going to have to be put back.
Re-writing the schedule of works has got as much to do with the huge volume of repairs caused by floods and storms as it has to do with anything else. A lot of maintenance and renewals are going to have to be put back. King Joke

11:40pm Tue 18 Feb 14

patjay says...

Bridge over troubled waters! So what will network do about the Oxford Railway
bridge in Botley road? they who dangled the 'carrot' of improvement to the area with the freight line installation, the sooner the better.

The apology for a pavement under the bridge leading to the station is a disgrace, despite the good work maintained in the area during the flooding, there is non-stop continual water running into the gutter, the wallside pavement drainage is blocked with debris. No doubt, the City 'Green machine' is not allowed to clean there - health and safety will kick in.

Vehicle drivers, even with the traffic lights on red, do not always show regard for the walkers, splashing water as they whizz past; bonanza time for a dry-cleaners to set up nearby!

With such a narrow pavement, it is unsafe for pedestrians especially if with luggage, a pram, especially with the YHA travellers nearby.

Using the otherside through the tunnel is no better, graffitti, grime, cyclists who do not dismount, what sort of example is this area to visitors to this fine City.
Bridge over troubled waters! So what will network do about the Oxford Railway bridge in Botley road? they who dangled the 'carrot' of improvement to the area with the freight line installation, the sooner the better. The apology for a pavement under the bridge leading to the station is a disgrace, despite the good work maintained in the area during the flooding, there is non-stop continual water running into the gutter, the wallside pavement drainage is blocked with debris. No doubt, the City 'Green machine' is not allowed to clean there - health and safety will kick in. Vehicle drivers, even with the traffic lights on red, do not always show regard for the walkers, splashing water as they whizz past; bonanza time for a dry-cleaners to set up nearby! With such a narrow pavement, it is unsafe for pedestrians especially if with luggage, a pram, especially with the YHA travellers nearby. Using the otherside through the tunnel is no better, graffitti, grime, cyclists who do not dismount, what sort of example is this area to visitors to this fine City. patjay

9:25am Wed 19 Feb 14

smithadm says...

Is it just me.... Or is Ed starting to show signs of an overly comfortable, Westminster Tory hospitality filled luncheon lifestyle.

Getting a little red and tubby!
Is it just me.... Or is Ed starting to show signs of an overly comfortable, Westminster Tory hospitality filled luncheon lifestyle. Getting a little red and tubby! smithadm

9:37am Wed 19 Feb 14

the wizard says...

What a complete lash up, talk about making friends and influencing people. Massive PR gaff. No matter what the project right now the rail companies as a whole need to engage with the public and get everybody on side. Making statements in a rash manner is not going to do that, nor is the attitude of, well we don't need to do this but we are. For pities sake grow up man. People have to use the roads as well as the rails.Whose fault is it that these bridges need to be replaced, Brunel ? Ok they have to be changed, then the way forward is to offer an alternative that is practical and agreeable, so what is wrong with using a Bailey Bridge and traffic lights to manage the traffic. Its been done before so why not now, or is the cost a major issue. Network Rail knew that sooner or later these bridges would need to be changed, so why haven't things been done in a more timely manner, rather than a knee jerk reaction which we now have.
A very ill thought out operation, which needs to be revised and other peoples needs considered. First thing needed is a spokesperson who is acceptable and reasonable as opposed to the idiot who holds the position right now.
What a complete lash up, talk about making friends and influencing people. Massive PR gaff. No matter what the project right now the rail companies as a whole need to engage with the public and get everybody on side. Making statements in a rash manner is not going to do that, nor is the attitude of, well we don't need to do this but we are. For pities sake grow up man. People have to use the roads as well as the rails.Whose fault is it that these bridges need to be replaced, Brunel ? Ok they have to be changed, then the way forward is to offer an alternative that is practical and agreeable, so what is wrong with using a Bailey Bridge and traffic lights to manage the traffic. Its been done before so why not now, or is the cost a major issue. Network Rail knew that sooner or later these bridges would need to be changed, so why haven't things been done in a more timely manner, rather than a knee jerk reaction which we now have. A very ill thought out operation, which needs to be revised and other peoples needs considered. First thing needed is a spokesperson who is acceptable and reasonable as opposed to the idiot who holds the position right now. the wizard

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