A Victorian viaduct in Oxfordshire which was closed on 3 April after engineers had reported dangerous movement of the structure, blocking the main line between Didcot Parkway and Oxford, is set to reopen on 10 June.
The closure has interrupted busy passenger services run by Great Western Railway and CrossCountry, and also meant that 40 freight trains had to be diverted every day. Replacement buses have been running between Didcot and Oxford, some of them also calling at the three intermediate stations of Appleford, Culham and Radley.
The failing abutment on the south bank of the River Thames has now been completely removed and work is underway to install solid foundations for a new structure.
The repair of the 1856 bridge over the Thames has been described as ‘complex’ and ’challenging’, and required some heavy engineering:
Twenty-four 15m steel piles have been driven into the bed of the river to create a solid platform for the temporary structure that is currently holding the weight of the viaduct. A 750-tonne crane has been working at the site, while 3000 cubic metres of material were removed from the embankment to make room for the new abutment. A further eight piles have been driven up to 20m into the embankment to give support.
Network Rail capital delivery director Stuart Calvert said: ‘The progress we have made on what is an extremely challenging project is testament to the diligence and talent of our teams.
‘There is more hard work to come but we continue to operate round the clock to reopen the viaduct by 10 June.
‘We apologise for the continued disruption for railway users but we are doing everything we can to get the railway running again as quickly as possible.’