Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown raised the issue of the Swindon to Kemble redoubling project with the Transport Secretary, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, last week in Parliament.
At Transport Questions last Thursday (10 March) Mr Clifton-Brown asked the Secretary of State:
“Will my right hon. Friend tell the House what feasibility studies have been undertaken on how long the Severn rail tunnel will be closed when the electrification project is under way? Would alternative diversion routes, such as the Kemble to Swindon rail scheme, be useful additions when the scheme is constructed?”
To which the Transport Secretary responded:
“My hon. Friend is extremely diligent in pursuing the Swindon to Kemble rail scheme. Our proposals will require electrification through the Severn tunnel. I have not yet received a detailed proposal from Network Rail on how engineering work will be carried out, but we will be mindful of the potential for disruption.”
Commenting afterwards Mr Clifton-Brown stated:
“The electrification of the Great West Mainline will mean that, at some point during the process of electrification, the Severn Tunnel will be closed for a period of time. It is therefore important that diversionary routes are able to cope with the additional rolling stock passing through them. “
“The Swindon to Kemble line is one such diversionary route and it is vital that it is able to perform this role. In its current state, with only a single track, as opposed to a double track, it will be difficult for more trains to pass through than already do.”
“I hope that the Department for Transport will look closely at the redoubling scheme as completing it would cost only a tiny fraction of the amount being spent on electrification and would make the closure of the Severn Tunnel easier to bear as well as providing significant benefits to the people of the Cotswolds.”
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