The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne visited a railway site in Swindon on Friday 12 July to view progress on the £45m Swindon to Kemble investment scheme.
He saw the improvement work entering a vital stage as new sets of switches and crossings were being assembled for installation this summer.
Between 9 August and 2 September the line will be shut when over 600 people and 100 engineering trains will be out in full force to reposition 6 miles of existing track.
Signalling and telecoms equipment along the line will also be moved in order to make room for the installation of 12-miles of additional track.
The Swindon to Kemble redoubling scheme is amongst a range of major investments, including electrification, earmarked for the Great Western main line, where it is poised to become the most advanced intercity railway in Britain by the end of the decade.
Above, pictures by Richard Wintle of Calyxpix.com of George Osborne laying railway track with Network Rail staff; below relaxing in traditional style of the British worker over a cuppa
These planned improvements will play a pivotal role in helping to drive local economies, creating jobs and attracting inward investments. The Chancellor said: “It’s great to see this work underway, delivering a scheme that will improve connectivity and boost the economy in Swindon and the broader South West. I hugely enjoyed meeting those working on the scheme.
"We need to invest in the long-term infrastructure that will equip our country to compete in the global race over the coming decades. That’s why we’re upgrading the Swindon to Kemble line, part of the largest investment in our railways since Victorian times and spending more than £300 billion on infrastructure over the next Parliament.”
Patrick Hallgate, route managing director for Network Rail Western said: “We are entering a very exciting phase of the project as we will be restoring this stretch of railway to what it was before Beeching. The investment on Swindon to Kemble railway is vital to meet growth and to secure a rail future for passengers. In addition, good rail links stimulate private sector investment and enable sustained productivity. The railway gives more than it takes and by investing in schemes like the redoubling of Swindon to Kemble, we are also investing in the future of Britain.“
Mark Hopwood, First Great Western Managing Director, added: “We have been talking to our customers about these improvements for some time and we are grateful to them for their feedback and help in realising this project. This upgrade is vitally important to improve our customers’ travel experiences for the future.
“Further improvements to the network infrastructure will pave the way for faster, more reliable services and makes the most of the Government’s planned investment in electrification and new trains – whoever has the privilege of running the franchise beyond 2014.”
Once the scheme is completed in 2014, the railway between Swindon and Gloucester via Kemble and Stroud will be capable of running more trains and provide a more reliable train service.
When major improvement works take place on the London to Bristol main line, many passengers will have to travel to London via trains on the Gloucester to Swindon line.