A bridge over the railway in Oxford is being rebuilt as part of a £71m scheme which will remove up to 50,000 lorry journeys a year from the region’s roads.
The upgrade of the bridge carrying Old Abingdon Road over the railway at South Hinksey 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.
The route being upgraded stretches from Southampton to the West Coast mainline at Nuneaton via Reading, Didcot, Oxford and Banbury.
The A34 is one of the most congested roads in the country and much of the traffic is HGVs transporting goods to and from Southampton port.
With the cost of road congestion to the British economy estimated at more than £10bn a year, the project will provide extra capacity to get freight off the roads and onto the railway.
Chris Rayner, Network Rail route director, said: “Britain relies on rail freight to get food onto supermarket shelves, consumer goods into our shops, coal to our power stations and raw materials to manufacturing businesses. Rail freight directly contributes £870m to the economy, takes tens of thousands of vehicles off the road to reduce congestion and produces 76% less carbon dioxide than road freight.
“Moving freight by rail is greener, faster and cheaper than the roads. Schemes such as the upgrade of the railway between Southampton and the West Midlands are vital for these benefits to be achieved now and into the future. We thank the people of Oxford for their patience and co-operation while we carry out this important work.”
Work at Old Abingdon Road will begin in November and will be complete by March 2011. Engineers will work over Christmas Day and Boxing Day to remove the existing bridge while the railway is closed.
Funding for this project has been agreed from the Department for Transport via a Transport Innovation Fund grant. Additional funding is being provided by South East England Development Agency, ABP, DP World Southampton, Advantage West Midlands, European Regional Development Fund and the Network Rail Discretionary Fund.