The bridge over the railway at Stratton Green reopened to the public on Monday 29 February, after work to prepare it for electrification and a new fleet of electric trains was completed on time.
The reconstruction of the bridge is an essential part of Network Rail’s £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers. As part of the Great Western Electrification Programme, work began on the bridge in November 2015 to create the additional space needed for the overhead lines that will power the new fleet of longer, faster, quieter and greener electric trains to run underneath.
To minimise disruption for passengers, the orange army used Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when trains were not running, to lift the new bridge into position. Since then the team has been working hard to prepare the bridge for its reopening including installing vehicle barriers to ensure the safety of drivers, tarmacking, adding in road markings and reinstating the street lights.
Andy Haynes, Network Rail’s project director for the west of England, said: “As a key commuter route into the centre of Swindon, we know the temporary closure of this bridge inconvenienced residents which is why I would like to thank them for their patience and understanding while we carried out this essential upgrade for the electrification of the railway.
“The team worked hard to ensure the reconstruction was completed in as short a timeframe as possible and that it was finished on time. Now the bridge has reopened, residents and businesses in Swindon are a step closer to the benefits that electrification and the new electric trains will bring.
“These benefits include faster trains with more seats and more leg room, and less noise and cleaner air for those who live close to the railway. Faster journeys and the ability to move more people by train will also help to promote economic growth in the south west.”
Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Sustainability and Transport, who cut the ribbon to mark the project’s completion, said: “The reopening of this bridge is good news for local residents and motorists who use this busy route and I congratulate Network Rail on completing the work on time.
“It’s good to see progress being made on the electrification of the Great Western Main Line and we look forward to the benefits it will bring Swindon residents.”
With work on upgrading the roundabouts under the two adjacent Bruce Street Bridges on Great Western Way into a single circular road almost complete, Swindon is at last experiencing easier driving conditions – until the next major roadworks start.
About Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail’s £40bn spending plan for Britain’s railways for the five year period up to 31 March 2019. The plan is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to tremendous growth the railways have seen – a doubling of passengers in the past twenty years. The plan will deliver a bigger, better railway with more trains, longer trains, faster trains with more infrastructure, more reliable infrastructure and better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.
About the Great Western Electrification Programme
Electrification will transform the railway between London and Oxford, Newbury, Bristol and Cardiff to deliver a faster, greener, quieter and more reliable railway for passengers, with extra capacity. Electrifying this part of the Great Western route will enhance 235 miles of one of Britain’s busiest and oldest railways, better connecting major towns and cities across southern England and South Wales. This investment, as well as the introduction of a fleet of new trains, will improve journey times and make services more comfortable, smoother, cleaner and quieter for passengers and people living near the railway.
Find out more about the Great Western Electrification Programme