Rail reconstruction gets underway through Bath in 2017.

A new word has entered our local vocabulary in the last couple of years. It’s ‘t-pod’ and it is a shortened and slightly trendy way of saying – ‘temporary period of disruption’ – used by Network Rail every time they announce a closure of the line to London.

We are in the throes of a multi-billion pound upgrade which is being carried out on Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s historic Great Western Railway and which will see  electrification, new rolling stock, more seats and shortened journeys.

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How an electric powered train might look passing through Bath’s historic Sydney Gardens.

Enough benefits – the Company hopes – to offset those painful periods when the trains aren’t running and you are bussed from station to station.

T-pods have so far been necessary for lowering the track through Box tunnel and doing something similar between Bath and Bristol. There will be another one next Easter when the platforms at Bath Spa Station are widened and the track moved to allow for overhead pylons to be installed without damage to listed canopies.

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Track lowering through Box Tunnel

Bath’s historic heritage and listed structures present Network Rail with additional problems but Bath Newseum has been talking to the man in charge of all this reconstruction – Andrew Haynes –  and has been told the Company is confident they can install a new power system that will be fit for purpose and which actually enhances Georgian gems like Sydney Gardens – through which the London to Bristol line passes.

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Track lowering through Keynsham Station.

We’re going to be seeing actual construction work from the start of 2017 – with the system ready for commissioning from the middle of 2019- but with new rolling stock ordered that is equipped with diesel engines as well as pantographs – for picking up power electric power – you can expect new trains from the back end of next year!

Here’s a report on progress from Network Rail’s Project Director for the West of England, Andrew Haynes.

Network Rail’s next regular ‘drop-in session’ – open to everyone – will be at Bath Guildhall from 4.30 pm to 7pm on Tuesday, May 10th. You can go along and look at diagrams of projected work and ask questions!