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In Full . . .

Behind the ‘blockade’

Posted on November 28 2016 at 10:44:40

Lowering in the first turnout panel

The Barnt Green to Bromsgrove rail corridor is now “electrification-ready” after a 12-day closure, with a full timetable of increased services due to begin in May 2018.

The “blockade”, which included a two-day complete closure of the line between Birmingham and Cheltenham, hit rail users all over the country as well as in the immediate area with many diversions and replacement bus services.

Richard Dugdale, senior sponsor for Network Rail’s electrification project, said: “Some people questioned why the new Bromsgrove station had to close when it had only recently opened, but electrification had to be the last element in order to match the new track layout and signalling system.”

He said the improvements at Bromsgrove were a huge challenge and a “one-in-100-years” investment in the town, as the station had not really changed in 30 years and is part of the steepest mainline railway in Britain.

“The logic behind it is astonishing.”

A small amount of electrification installation was also carried out at Barnt Green during the blockade.

The electrification is due to be “energised” in September 2017, then there will be a period of driver training before the first electric Bromsgrove passenger trains in December 2017.

By then, Mr Dugdale said, the lifts on the bridge at Barnt Green station will be in place, having secured their funding.

Meanwhile, the planned footbridge to replace the crossing at Cofton Hackett is still “in the design process” but has been funded and authorised.

“The intention is to build it before December 2017. There have been strong views on the matter, but this is the only solution,” Mr Dugdale said.

“The Blackwell one is more tricky, but we have to do something about it.

“A bridge would be too expensive, and the neighbours would not be happy, so maybe a diversion – but it’s not finalised. There will be a consultation process.”

Mr Dugdale confirmed that the Vigo crossing will remain open, as it has good sighting and is safe for users in Network Rail’s opinion.

Above: Lowering in the first turnout panel (Photo/ Richard Dugdale).

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