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Didcot bridges to be rebuilt over Christmas in £71M rail freight upgrade

Two bridges over the railway in the Didcot area are being rebuilt this Christmas weekend as part of a £71m project designed to remove up to 50,000 lorries a year from the region’s roads and provide a cheaper, quicker and more practical way of transporting goods around the country.

The £4.5m upgrade of bridges over the railway at Sands Road in South Moreton and nearby Stocks Farm is required to allow bigger 9' 6" or 'high-cube' containers to be transported efficiently by rail from Associated British Ports' (ABP) Port of Southampton across the country, making a valuable contribution to the economy and helping Britain compete better in the global marketplace.

Chris Rayner, Network Rail’s route director for the Great Western route, said: “Rail can provide a cheaper, greener and more practical way of transporting freight compared with road. This project aims to increase the amount of freight transported by rail, which will help reduce carbon emissions and road congestion as well as delivering long-term economic benefits across the country.”

“We have to replace these bridges to achieve the many benefits of transporting freight by rail rather than road.  Where possible we have made the new structures better than the ones we removed. There will be some disruption while we carry out this important work but we can assure motorists, pedestrians and rail users that we aim to keep disruption to an absolute minimum.”

Sands Road bridge in South Moreton will be closed from 14 December 2009 until April 2010. Removal of the existing bridge deck will begin once the last train has passed through the area on Christmas Eve, with engineers working round the clock over Christmas Day and Boxing Day to install the new single-span bridge. The new bridge will be wider with a footpath, making it much safer for pedestrians. Although it will not reopen fully until April, pedestrians and cyclists will be allowed to cross the bridge when it is deemed safe to do so by Network Rail’s contractors on site.

Stocks Farm overbridge, which carries a bridleway across the railway north of Sands Road, is also being replaced with a new single-span bridge. It has been closed since September and will also reopen in April 2010.

Network Rail has kept local residents informed about every aspect of the project with letters, meetings and regular updates posted on notice boards in both North and South Moreton. As a gesture of goodwill, Network Rail has agreed to donate a bench to South Moreton Millennium Garden. In addition, Network Rail recently supplied labour and materials to upgrade the footpath leading to Sadsgroves underpass, which is an alternative means of crossing the railway line while the bridge replacements are carried out.

Rail services will not be affected by the work over Christmas.

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