Rail passengers will now be well aware that ‘normal’ services have been resumed on the line to London – following the closure of a stretch of line between Bath and the eastern side of Box Tunnel to lower part of the track and renew ballast and rails in advance of the electrification of the Bristol Temple Meads to London Paddington line.
However Network Rail are continuing to hold monthly consultations at Bath’s Guildhall to keep people informed of progress in this multi billion scheme that will see new rolling stock and a faster service to the capital.
Today’s meeting included showing some possible solutions to safely being able to bring a power cable and pylons through one of Bath’s most historically important areas.
Sydney Gardens is now a public park but is also all that remains of Britain’s last Georgian pleasure garden or Vauxhall.
A remnant from a bygone age when people paid to enjoy outdoor dining, grottos, labyrinths, waterfalls and adult swing boats in a setting that included music, fireworks and a circular ‘drive’ to enjoy in carriages or on horseback.
All that remains now is a central path but one that has to bridge both the canal and railway line that were to cut through this pleasure park.
Brunel’s railway was more than just a cutting. He wanted his trains to be seen and admired by park users and created a green auditorium for then to view and cheer his steam-driven, smoke belching mechanical marvels as they passed through.
Network Rail are keen to continue to let people watch but – with a live power line having to be suspended above the line – there is health and safety issues to be dealt with.
Today’s consultation showed several possible ways in which humans and electricity can be kept apart – including re-designing the main stone bridge over the line to include raised areas on which to view the trains.
Down on ground level there are several options now for decorative fencing that would not obstruct the view too much but would keep people away from the line.
The options have to be considered by B&NES and passed through the various bodies that take an interest in our national heritage.
The actual erection of pylons – including the special wall-hanging ones proposed for Sydney Gardens – won’t happen until next year.
However Bath – be prepared for some noise and disturbance to come later this year.
From October, Network Rail engineers will start sinking the piling necessary to provide support for the cable-carrying pylons when they are erected next year.
The next Network Rail consultation will be held in the Bath Guildhall on Tuesday, October 6th between 4pm and 7pm.