Banbury to Leamington railway line reopens

New track and signalling at Banbury.

New track and signalling at Banbury.

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The railway line between Banbury, Bicester and Leamington reopened today (Monday) after Network Rail completed a £76m upgrade to track and signalling on the Chiltern main line.

Engineers have replaced the signalling through Banbury by upgrading it to a more reliable and modern system which will be controlled from the West Midlands Signalling Centre in Birmingham.

The work by Network Rail, part of the Railway Upgrade Plan, will help improve the punctuality and reliability of train services on the Chiltern main line, providing Chiltern Railways passengers with a better railway between Birmingham and London and CrossCountry passengers with a better railway through the area.

As part of the railway upgrade at Banbury 14,000 metres of new rail has been laid and 50,000 tonnes of ballast – the stone which forms the foundation of the track – has been used. A total of 24 new points – which allow trains to change from one track to another – has been installed.

Much of the work had already taken place prior to the nine-day closure between Leamington, Bicester North and Banbury, keeping disruption to passengers to an absolute minimum.

In addition to the new track layout through Banbury station and the modern signalling being installed, a new fourth platform was constructed allowing for greater capacity and flexibility at the station. The investment also provides the necessary infrastructure for a new depot south of Banbury which is currently being built. This will provide essential maintenance provision for the growing Chiltern Railways train fleet.

Martin Ball, area director for Network Rail, said: “This work was completed on time and with the least amount of disruption to passengers and is an important part of modernising the railway through the area to provide passengers with a more reliable, better railway.

“Our engineers worked quickly and safely to complete this work on time and on budget and we worked closely with the train operators involved to carefully plan these improvements to cause the least amount of disruption to passengers. I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while the improvements took place.

“Our Railway Upgrade Plan is delivering significant investment into the railway network which will provide a better, more reliable railway for passengers.”

Dave Penney, managing director at Chiltern Railways said: “The work at Banbury was an essential investment in the long term reliability of the railway and was successfully delivered on time. Through a modernisation of the signalling system, Chiltern Railways services can remain some of the most punctual in the country. The 18 month project is now complete and I would like to thank all of our customers who have shown patience and understanding during the improvements, particularly during the recent nine day line closure between Leamington Spa and Bicester.”

Andy Cooper, managing director of CrossCountry, said: “We are delighted this important work was finished as planned and that our customers are once again able to complete their journeys by train. We would like to thank everyone affected for their patience while this was taking place, and know that this investment in a bigger and better railway will benefit our customers for years to come.”

For more information about this project, visit www.chilternrailways.co.uk/banbury-upgrade