Sydney Gardens – It’s electrifying!

A first image of how the railway line through Bath’s historic Sydney Gardens might look in the future as Network Rail report that things are progressing well with the re-construction work which has effectively shut down the up line from Bath Spa Station towards Chippenham.

Track lowering work underway.

Track lowering work underway. Click on all images to enlarge.

Box Tunnel is closed to passenger traffic for the whole of August as part of the work being carried out to eventually electrify the main line from London to Bristol and eventually across to Swansea.

The Virtual Museum is going to quote from the company’s ‘update’ for August 7th that you can find on their website at http://www.networkrail.co.uk/great-western-route-modernisation/banes/

Proposed solution for iron bridge and low balustrade wall. Seems Brunel's last remaining iron bridge on the line - which will be conserved - has some sort of apron to protect people against the high power line passing beneath it. © Network Rail

Proposed solution for iron bridge and low balustrade wall. Seems Brunel’s last remaining iron bridge on the line – which will be conserved – has some sort of apron to protect people against the high power line passing beneath it. © Network Rail

But first of all take a look at one of the ‘ideas’ being floated for an effective health and safety barrier to be constructed in Sydney Gardens to deter people from getting anywhere near trains and high-power cables. It would still let people see the trains pass through – as the original builder of the line – Isambard Kingdom Brunel – intended.

Network Rail say:

“We have completed tamping (firmly ram or pack) on the down main line in Box Tunnel and have started the track lowering work on the up main line from the Corsham end of the tunnel.
The track lowering at Dundas progressed well during the past week and as we type, is on plan to finish on schedule this Saturday.

The drainage work at Bathampton Junction is on plan to be completed  and the team will move on to the switches & crossings work along with the track lower and renewal work for the next two weeks.

Ballast Cleaning System used during track lowering work

Ballast Cleaning System used during track lowering work

As this work ramps up at Bathampton Junction, you will see more locos running through Sydney Gardens, often idling there for a while.

Given the sheer size of the trains and proximity to Bath Spa station (which we need to keep open for passenger trains), they will have to wait there until there is room to accept them onto the work site at Bathampton.”

The other bit of good news seems to be that the bus replacement system for Great Western Rail passengers is working:

“The Bathampton Rail Replacement Service operation has settled down and a well-coordinated service is delivering customers to and from Bath. A highly energetic and visible team meet and greet buses and coaches on arrival at Bath and ensure customers find the right spot for their departure. Morning arrivals have been invariably early.

This way to Bath Bus Station.

This way to Bath Bus Station.

Teams at Westbury, Frome, Bradford on Avon and Trowbridge are also offering a highly regarded customer service judging by comments received from stakeholders and customers.
A number of outgoing evening peak services have suffered additional journey time this week due to emergency road work along the London Road in Bath to repair a gas leak and a BT cable.”

Meanwhile, according to the online update, the work team did their bit towards protecting wildlife!

“During one of the last week’s cold rainy days, our team working in Box Tunnel saved an injured young kestrel found on site.

The bird was very lethargic, so our team was able to pick it up and take it to a veterinary surgery in Bath after liaising with the RSPB. We are happy to report that the kestrel was sent to a bird of prey rescue foundation and is now being properly cared for.”

Meanwhile the next drop in session will be held in Bath’s Guildhall on Tuesday August 18th from 4pm until 7.30 pm. There will also be a drop in event on Thursday. August 13th from 1.30 pm to 3pm in Bathampton. That’s in an orange tent on Tyning Road between the canal and Bathampton Primary School.