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Corsham hopes railway electrification chaos will reopen station after 40 years

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 25, 2014

Corsham station pictured before its closure in 1965. The Wiltshire town is hoping that electrification of the line - which has brought chaos to communities on the route - will help a campaign to reopen the station

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A Wiltshire town next in line to be disrupted by the £1 billion electrification of the West's mainline railway are hoping the work will bring a tangible benefit – success in a 40-year battle to reopen the train station.

Two back roads around Corsham, one which serves the town's rugby club and the other a shortcut to avoid Chippenham's busy bypass, are to be closed by Network Rail as part of the continuing work to raise ageing bridges to allow electrification equipment underneath.

Notton Lane, which connects Corsham with Lacock and allows locals to avoid Chippenham's busy A350, will close for three months soon, with Ladbrook Lane, a road to the south east of Corsham which includes the rugby club, closing for five months.

Diversions will be in place, and the closures are not expected to cause the same levels of disruption as bridge work has done further north in Wiltshire over the past few months.

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Businesses in Minety said they were hit badly by a bridge closure last year, while the main B4040 across the south Cotswolds between Chipping Sodbury and Malmesbury is still closed after bridge work there over-ran by four months.

And the latest place to be hit by the problems is Dauntsey and Lyneham. The closure of the bridge at Dauntsey Lock means the village is split in two, with trouble already on the narrow lanes that are being used as local diversions.

But Network Rail said the bridge closures were the equivalent of 'breaking eggs' to make an omelette. Electrification is expected to be a major boost to not just the speed of journeys from the West Country to London, but also the capacity of the lines to enable more trains to run.

"We need to make sure there is enough room for electrification lines to pass under the bridges, as part of work from Maidenhead to Cardiff," said a spokesman for Network Rail.

"We are working really hard to minimise the disruption, but you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. The end benefit is electrified trains which are greener and faster, with more capacity and requiring less maintenance," he added.

And that, campaigners in Corsham say, should mean their 40-year fight to re-open the town's station, which is between Chippenham and Bath on Brunel's original Great Western mainline, is successful.

After several near-misses with their campaign, which is being mirrored by a similar project in Royal Wootton Bassett, residents of Corsham hope things are at last moving.

On Thursday, transport minister Stephen Hammond will visit Wiltshire to look at the county's railway infrastructure. He will visit Melksham station, where the service dropped to just two trains a day before local campaigners and council chiefs secured a new TransWilts service between Trowbridge and Swindon which has boosted commuters. Then Mr Hammond will meet Network Rail to discuss the possibility of reopening Corsham.

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  • zinboya  |  March 25 2014, 8:19AM

    WHY not build new bridge,s along side the old ones,and then remove the old bridge,s, this would allow the people to continue using the one,s until the new one,s are built, that,s if there,s room to build along side.