The improvement work has undone some of the cuts in the 1970s by re-introducing a double-track railway between Ascott-under-Wychwood to east of Charlbury and from Moreton-in-Marsh to Evesham. In addition, disused platforms have been rebuilt at Charlbury, Ascott-under-Wychwood and Honeybourne and out-dated signalling system has also been modernised with digital equipment.
Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said: “As more people travel by train it’s vital passengers have a better services - that’s why the Government has embarked on the biggest modernisation programme to rail since the Victorian era. The improvements on the North Cotswold route which are being carried by Network Rail are great news for passengers, providing improved and more services to and from important destinations such as London, Oxford and Worcester.”
Mike Gallop, principal programme sponsor, Network Rail said: “This is a new chapter, a new start for the North Cotswold line, where we have delivered on our promise to bring a bigger and better railway to passengers. This scheme is also one part of our work to upgrade Great Western - transforming journeys and boosting the economy.”
Mark Hopwood, managing director, First Great Western said: “I am very proud of the way that the railway industry and local customers have come together to restore this part of the network. The team at First Great Western is confident that the completion of this work will provide a further platform for improved services for customers along the line and beyond.”
Passengers at Charlbury, Ascott-under-Wychwood and Honeybourne will also benefit from a bigger, bright and accessible station with improved facilities, including new platforms with step-free access, new lighting and real-time digital information systems.
The level crossings at Littleton and Badsey, Chipping Campden, Blockley and Ascott have also been upgraded with new equipment.
The scheme culminated with an intensive 17-days programme of work with hundreds of engineers out in full force working round the clock. During that period, a 200 tonnes crane was used to install the footbridge at Honeybourne and 15miles of track and six points between Evesham and Moreton were installed.
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