HRH The Princess Royal opens upgraded Swindon to Kemble rail line

Friday 17th October 2014
Today, Friday 17 October 2014, HRH The Princess Royal officially opened the newly redoubled railway line from Swindon to Kemble in a ceremony at Kemble station.

The project to redouble the line was completed in August and involved Network Rail’s ‘orange army’ installing approximately 215,000 tonnes of ballast, 60,000 metres of rail and 70,000 new sleepers to reinstate the second line between Swindon and Kemble, which was removed in 1968.

HRH The Princess Royal arrived by train at Kemble station from London Paddington at 9am and was greeted by staff from Network Rail and train operator, First Great Western. She then unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening of the line, which has been in use since the project was completed.

Demand for rail travel across the West and South West is set to continue to increase significantly over the next 30 years. The £45m project, funded by the Department for Transport, to upgrade this line will play a key part in paving the way for this demand to be met and in the future, providing an improved service for passengers, including increased reliability and reduced journey times. The additional line will also be essential to enable trains from south Wales to be diverted along this route when Bristol Parkway station and the Severn Tunnel are closed for electrification work.

Rail Minister, Claire Perry, said: “Continuing to invest in our railways is an important part of our long term economic plan. Over the next five years more than £38 billion will be spent to get more trains, more seats and more services for passengers.

“Funding work like this is a crucial part of this and I congratulate Network Rail’s dedicated team for completing this important project.”

Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, who spoke at the ceremony, said: “This project has taken years of patient, meticulous work by hundreds of people from Network Rail, First Great Western and many other organisations.

“Now that work on the line is complete, passengers can look forward to fewer delays and reduced journey times in the future. It also means we can minimise the disruption caused by our electrification work and ensure the region gets maximum benefit from a modern, electric railway.”

Mark Hopwood, First Great Western’s managing director, said: “This improvement work to the network infrastructure paves the way for faster, more reliable services and makes the most of the Government’s planned investment in electrification and new trains. The upgrade is vitally important to improve our customers’ travel experiences for the future – and I thank them for their patience while this work has been undertaken.”

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “We have long supported the line upgrade between Swindon and Kemble and worked closely with Network Rail to make it happen. The second line will hugely improve the service and make travelling by rail quicker and easier for people in Gloucestershire, whilst reducing congestion on our roads and helping to boost the local economy.”