Great Western main line electrification
Despite the electrification of the line between Didcot and Oxford being put on hold, things have been happening during 2016 and now in 2017. The project has not yet reached Culham but piling has been completed as far as Appleford level crossing and several preparatory surveys have been completed around Culham.
During the summer of 2017 work slowly progressed with the installation of concrete trunking ready to accept the main cables to feed the overhead power.
There are a few issues which have caused a bit of angst for the planners and contractors. We will develop this page to look at these and also reflect general progress as time permits.
Overbridge modifications 2016/17
The first signs of the electrification project gathering pace are shown here.
The footbridge had stainless steel parapet extensions and warning signs added in late 2016. One unfortunate result was that it became impossible to photograph passing trains from the bridge - unless you stood on a box. The parapet on the main road bridge was also raised, but this took a while longer to complete. This too had warning signs applied.
Whilst these two bridges have been modified, the old road overbridge has not been touched and there doesn't seem to be any plan for work on it. Possibly the parapet is already in safety. The Thame Lane bridge, which is a listed structure, is causing some problems though. A few years before it was listed Network Rail had thought about replacing it with a brand new bridge, but no action was taken. When the electrification project came along it was found that there was not enough clearance underneath it for the overhead wires and first thoughts were to take it down and rebuild it at a higher level. That plan was abandoned in favour of lowering the tracks instead. The Thame Lane bridge and the old station overbridge, whilst both being original from 1844 when the line opened, do have different shaped arches. The semi-elliptical road overbridge may afford greater clearance across the width of its span than the arched Thame Lane bridge.
Power line changes 2016/17
Two power lines used to cross above the track by the station. During November 2016 the one to the south (Didcot side) of the main road bridge was raised on a much taller pole. This was to increase the clearance below the electricity lines to provide sufficient height above the overhead wires when they are installed at some point in the future. The height of this new pole is very apparent in this photograph taken in the summer of 2017. Visible in the distance is Didcot power station with its three remaining cooling towers from the demolished Didcot 'A'. These will themselves be taken down in due course with much of the surrounding area being earmarked for major redevelopment. The railway curves off towards Appleford bridge over the Thames and onwards to Didcot. A few yards up the road is a favourite spot for recording trains as it offers a clear vantage point of this long sweep of track.
A similar power line crossed the track next to the footbridge going towards the Railway Inn and some nearby cottages. This was rerouted to cross the tracks below ground in early 2017. A subsantial double pole and small transformer was installed near the ticket office with the overhead supply coming in to the lefthand pole and the outgoing supply being taken down to ground level via the righthand one.
Problem with the Old Ticket Office
Close inspection of satellite images of the ticket office show that it does not sit exactly parallel with the railway track. Several surveys have been carried out, using both modern laser equipment and traditional optical instruments. Discussing the results with the different surveyors revealed a difference of opinion. The south west corner of the building may, or may not, slightly foul the safety margin from the overhead wires. If it doesn't then all is well. If it does then it has been suggested that a section of canopy will have to be removed. This difference of opinion has caused some angst, especially as the building's listed status would have to be taken into account before any alterations can be made.