A STRETCH of recently installed electrification gantries on the Great Western Main Line is set to be replaced in response to vigorous environmental objections, but Network Rail has yet to confirm that funding will be available.
The project to electrify the route between London, Bristol and Cardiff is already running seriously behind schedule, but work recently completed through the Goring Gap in Oxfordshire may have to be torn down and replaced.
Residents in Goring and the nearby village of South Stoke have been protesting since last year, although a Parliamentary petition failed to attract more than 1,200 signatures -- well below the minimum of 10,000 needed before the government must respond.
The affected stretch of four track main line runs through two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Network Rail has revealed that it has given specialists a 'high level brief' in a bid to evolve an alternative design. However, a spokesman told Railnews that any replacements 'must meet our specifications around reliability, safety, and efficiency'.
According the local Railway Action Group, Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne has now written to the Conservation Boards of the Chilterns and North Wessex Downs AONBs saying: "I also re-affirm that should the outcome of the design options and the public consultation highlight that Network Rail should undertake retrospective works to alter or replace the installed apparatus, Network Rail intends to undertake such works as are necessary, subject to costs and the agreement of funding”.
It is not yet clear when the work might be done, but Network Rail added that it was seeking replacement equipment which would be 'more aesthetically pleasing'.