Yarnton road over rail bridge following repairs, via Network Rail

Partial reopening to Oxford and Worcester line after successful repair works

The railway line between Oxford and Worcester officially reopened for services today, following successful repair works after a collapsed wall and landslip event that occurred earlier this month on Friday 10th February at Yarnton near Oxford.

A side wing wall of the road over the rail bridge at Yarnton, Oxfordshire, collapsed onto the rail line, causing a severely hazardous situation, thus prompting Network Rail engineers on site immediately to repair the damages and construct protective barriers around the rail line. Despite these efforts, further landslips continued to occur in the embankment adjacent to the bridge, leading to a closure of the line to ensure safety for passengers.

The unstable ground represented a major risk to the stability of the surrounding road and its utilities, with the landslide exposing a gas main, further adding elements of complexity to the repair project.

Network Rail engineers conducted an investigatory process last week, attempting to identify the most suitable options to stabilise the embankment, working with a specialist civils and engineering contractor to design metal sheet piling that will act as a retaining wall to support the embankment and road.

Engineers worked tirelessly over the weekend to install these metal sheet piles, accompanied by 22 soil nails. As a result of these efforts, this stretch of the railway reopened this morning, accompanied by a temporary speed 20mph restriction that will remain in place with a watchman until Network Rail has completed the second phase of longer-term repairs to reinforce the structure and ground.

The next phase of construction will begin towards the end of next week, with expectations for it to culminate in a couple of weeks, seeing works conducted overnight as to ensure no disruptions to passenger services.

Nicky Hughes from Network Rail, said:

“We would like to thank passengers for their patience and understanding while we have made these vital repairs at Yarnton.

“Our team of engineers has worked tirelessly alongside our specialist civil engineering contractors Balfour Beatty, to design and install a solution that has enabled us to quickly and safely reopen the line to passenger services tomorrow morning as planned.

“The road over rail bridge at Yarnton is 170 years old – from the Victorian era – and one of over 2,000 similar aged bridges we have across our Western route. We take the structural integrity of these bridges very seriously and regularly monitor their condition and conduct detailed examinations every six years. Over the coming weeks our team of engineers will return to this site to begin the second phase of longer-term repairs which will further reinforce the structure and ground around the railway.”

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