Minister of State for Transport, Baroness Kramer, visited Sleaford yesterday (Thursday) to view and officially open the completed upgrade to the town’s avoiding line.
The work completed by Network Rail is part of the Great Northern Great Eastern project - a £280 million Government-funded programme to transform the line between Doncaster and Peterborough via Lincoln and Sleaford that will complete later in 2014.
Numerous bridges under or over roads have been upgraded or replaced, level crossing automated and access to platforms at village stations such as Metheringham and Ruskington made safer within the space of three years.
Once finished, the route will allow more freight and passenger services to run, helping to meet growing demand for rail services. It will also relieve the burden on the high speed East Coast Main Line by taking more traffic and acting as a more efficient alternative diversion during engineering works.
Baroness Kramer waved a green flag to allow a commemorative locomotive to pass up the reinstated avoiding line which allows freight services to bypass Sleaford station and its busy Southgate level crossing, improving rail capacity and reducing congestion in the town centre. Some sections of rails, dating back to the 1930s, had to be completely replaced.
Baroness Kramer said: “It just captures the whole revival of the railway and clearly the benefits it is going to bring, making better use of the East Coast Main Line and this alternative route. The revival of that infrastructure releases new potential throughout the whole area and economic growth. This will make life more reasonable in Sleaford than if we had not used the avoiding line.”
She wanted the communities to engage with the project to shape how they would like the rail service to improve with the extra capacity to maximise benefits locally, especially with the East Coast Main Line franchise coming back up for tender in 2016.