Cotswold Line train services will be back to normal tomorrow, Saturday, June 10, with trains running through to and from Reading and London again after repairs to Nuneham Viaduct, pictured, were completely a day early.
Network Rail finished the reinstatement of track and signalling over the bridge yesterday, Thursday, June 8, and a test train made a round trip between Oxford and Didcot during the evening.
GWR is operating a limited shuttle service, using a two-car Turbo diesel unit, between Oxford and Didcot today, Friday, June 9, with rail replacement buses continuing to run between Oxford and Didcot. The first train carrying passengers over the bridge was the 07.27 from Didcot Parkway to Oxford.
Network Rail has released a short video showing trains using the viaduct today, which also takes a look back at the problems engineers faced and the work carried out around the clock since the first week in April to repair the structure.
The normal Saturday timetable is expected to operate tomorrow, with the 05.54 from Great Malvern to Paddington being the first train from the Cotswold Line to cross the viaduct, which takes trains over the River Thames between Radley and Culham stations.
A 50mph speed limit will be in force for the time being, as Network Rail and its contractors complete work in the area and remove piling placed in the riverbed that was used to support the viaduct decks while a new abutment was built on the southern bank of the river.
Network Rail capital delivery director Stuart Calvert said: “We’re extremely pleased to be able to reopen the railway through Nuneham, ahead of schedule.
“A complex and challenging repair like this would normally take two to three years to complete, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of our talented teams of engineers, and industry experts, this major project has been turned around in just under 10 weeks. ”
GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: “We’re delighted Network Rail has been able to finish its work ahead of schedule and we have been able to reintroduce services between Oxford and Didcot. We look forward to welcoming people back and thank them for their patience and understanding over the past two months.
“This is a crucial part of our network and I’d like to thank our colleagues at Network Rail and fellow train operators for their support and hard work throughout this difficult period. I’d also like to thank GWR colleagues who have gone above and beyond to keep customers on the move.”