Paddington route to London reopens

The railway line between Oxford and Didcot has reopened ahead of schedule, after work was completed on the Nuneham viaduct. 

The line has been closed since 3rd April 2023 after movement was detected in the 160-year old viaduct, which forms part of the route. 

The closure has caused significant disruption, as the Great Western Railway route from Oxford to London Paddington has not been running. Chiltern Railway, who run an alternative, slightly longer, route from Oxford to London Marylebone, had allocated 4,000 extra seats every weekday to their Marylebone service to try to meet the increase in demand. 

800 people have worked nearly 60,000 hours in order to install the viaduct’s new steel support. Network Rail capital delivery director Stuart Calvert stated: “A complex and challenging repair like this would normally take two or three years to complete, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of our talented teams of engineers, and industry experts, this major project has been turned around in just under ten weeks.” 

A full timetable is due to resume on Saturday 10th June. Engineers will remain on site for 12 weeks to finish work. 

Jacob Hill, a student at St John’s College, stated that he was “thrilled at the reopening” of the Paddington route due to how much slower and more inconvenient the Chiltern Railways Marylebone train is. 

However, Network Rail construction continues in Oxford city centre. Botley Road is closed to all traffic until 31st October in order to replace the road’s rail bridge, as part of a wider project to upgrade Oxford’s train station. The closure has attracted significant complaints from local residents, with Oxford MP Layla Moran writing to Network Rail over concerns for pedestrian safety.