Well there is real hope now that Network Rail will be proceeding as gently as possible when its electrification construction programme – for the main London to Bristol line – passes through the Bath area next year.
In a briefing – being presented to a meeting of the Planning,Transport and Environment Development and Scrutiny Panel on Tuesday, March 4th (try saying that mouthful in one breath!) – David Trigwell – who is the Director of Planning and Transport Development for B&NES – will tell members the Company will ‘respect the sensitivity of the Great Western railway through the Bath World Heritage Site.’
He said Network Rail would ‘respond to the landscape character of the city by careful consideration of the location of the overhead line equipment’ and ‘ achieve the necessary electrical clearances and safety requirement to protect the public from overhead line equipment in ways that minimise the physical and visual impacts on sensitive listed structures.’
There are of course quite a few of those passing through Sydney Gardens and David Trigwell will tell Panel members that NR propose treating ‘Sydney Gardens as a 21st century electrification set-piece worthy of Brunel’s theatre of railway.’
Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the line through Sydney Gardens to be as visible as possible to those watching his steam-driven trains passing through.
Getting a continuous power line under his bridges will involve digging out and lowering the track bed through the parkland. No doubt near neighbours can expect some night-time working during the summer period of 2015 while the work is being done.
Further up the line the Box tunnel will also be closed for six weeks while the track is lowered. Commuters from Bath Spa will find a fleet of buses waiting to take them on to Chippenham or – l suppose – you could always catch a train to Waterloo instead?