Disruption as Oxford rail line shuts for 2 wk upgrade

Rail workers carrying out an upgrade of the tracks at Oxford station

Tens of thousands of rail passengers in the Thames Valley are facing weeks of severe disruption as major work to upgrade the network gets underway.The work includes the biggest track and signal project ever of its kind costing £200m at Oxford.

The work will see the removal and replacement of the track to the north of the station. Network Rail says that the new track, crossings and signal, which will be operated from the Thames Valley Signal Centre at Didcot - will allow for faster line speeds and better regulation of passenger and freight trains through the station; while new power supplies will make the signalling system more reliable.

There is also disruption between Didcot and Banbury for two weeks with line and station closures.

Meanwhile, the Theale to Newbury and Westbury line is shut for almost a month for electrification work.

Buses are ferrying passengers to a major hubs at Didcot and Oxford Parkway between 6 July and 23 July.

However at present the big problem for the hundreds of workers in the so-called Orange Army who carrying out the upgrade project is the heat with the current high weather temperatures. The company is using several measures to keep them cool.

In his report ITV Meridian's Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse spoke to Rob Mashford from Network Rail; and Dan Panes from Great Western Railway.