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Campaigners win rail battle- but at what cost?

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Completion of the £10billion scheme to electrify the Great Western Railway in the Thames Valley has been hit by a major setback.

Campaigners have won a four year battle to stop the demolition of an historic grade two listed bridge which needs to be replaced to complete the project.

The Brunel structure at Steventon in Oxfordshire is now the missing link to the scheme which will transform travel. Until the structure is replaced it means improved journey times can not be fully met.

However, Network Rail insist the vast majority of the work in Oxfordshire and Berkshire is complete following a month long closure of the Newbury line which re-opened today.

Watch this report by Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse:

Across much of the Thames Valley, the gantries and the wires are now complete. The project to electrify the great western mainline has changed the face of the region, and will transform services.

This brunel bridge at Steventon needs to be replaced with a bigger one Credit: ITV Meridian

However, there's now another problem. This Brunel bridge at Steventon needs to be replaced with a bigger one to house the new electric wires, but a planning application has just been rejected by the local council following a 4 year campaign by villagers. They went it kept, and fear 10 months of construction work will cut off the village.

Dr Chris Wilding, Chair- Steventon Parish Council:

New electric trains will be able to run, but we'd have to lower their pantographs, slow down and coast through the missing link.

New electric trains will be able to run

Elsewhere, the news is better. A month long closure of the Newbury line has seen work completed. Today (06/08) passengers have their trains back after weeks of replacement buses.

For hundreds of workers, it's also been a tough few weeks to the exceptional heat.

For hundreds of workers, it's also been a tough few weeks to the exceptional heat. Credit: ITV Meridian