Tracklaying train stops just short of station as East West Rail line reaches Winslow
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The construction of the East West Rail track between Bicester and Bletchley has passed the halfway point.
There was excitement in Winslow last week as the tracklaying train for the new railway line was spotted to the east, working its way towards the town.
The East West Rail Alliance, which is delivering the infrastructure for East West Rail on behalf of Network Rail and the East West Rail Company, had hoped the new track construction (NTC) train would make it as far as the new Winslow Station and on towards Verney Junction last week.
The new track construction train is one of only two of its kind in the country, carrying with it enough sleepers to install up to 1.1km of track in each 10-hour shift, with 66km of track in total to be laid between Bicester and Bletchley.
In the event, the machine did not quite reach Winslow Station, before having to return to its base in Crewe to be deployed on other scheduled tracklaying work across the country.
But East West Rail Alliance deputy director Jez Baldock told the Bucks Herald that track construction is now over 50 per cent complete, and there will be more opportunities to observe the special train during February and March. Winslow Station itself is now taking shape and due for completion this year.
He said: “The East West Rail Alliance are really proud to have passed the halfway point for track construction on the project, and as a result the project remains on target to meet its programme and facilitate a new railway service to Winslow.”
Jez also emphasised the project’s commitment to mitigating the impact on wildlife by retaining as much existing vegetation as possible and replacing any wildlife habitat lost – such as along the route of the former disused railway line near Winslow – with a 10 per cent increase in biodiverse habitat.
The East West Rail Alliance has constructed 20 ecological compensation sites, aimed at creating new habitats for birds, reptiles, otter, badgers, bat and other species, and by the time the project is complete will have planted more than 150,000 new trees and plants.