Medway Council has issued a formal notice to contractors over works worth £48million to restore passenger services on the freight-only railway in the Hoo Peninsula for the first time since 1968.
The £63m rail modernization and restoration program is part of a wider £170m investment in the Hoo Peninsula from the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund to improve access and neighborhoods .
The rail project will upgrade the existing 19km Grain Branch line, which is a single two-way freight-only line that connects the Isle of Grain to the North Kent line at Hoo Junction. The upgrade will allow residents of the Hoo Peninsula to access the mainline, which runs regularly to London.
The existing line will require upgrades to allow passenger services to operate while maintaining freight services. To do this, new sections of double track will have to be installed to create loops where trains can cross paths. Some bridges on the route will need to be upgraded to accommodate dual carriageway.
Key to work on the line is how the trains will be powered. Battery and hydrogen trains were considered, but were ruled out due to their need for new rolling stock. Instead, it was proposed to extend the existing third railway electrification system on the Grain line.
The work will also include the construction of a new station around the midpoint of this line, south of Sharnal Street.
Wherever possible, materials will be sourced locally and brought to site along the railway line.
The work is divided into three phases.
1: Rail Enabling Works – £700,000
Scope: Site and vegetation clearance along the rail corridor, around the rail loop locations and at the proposed location of Sharnal Street Station.
Procurement: June 2022
Start on site: October 2022
Duration: 12-16 weeks
2: Railway Advance Works – £6.5m
Scope 2A: Widening of embankment to facilitate addition of rail loops, installation and repair of track drainage, replacement of bridge deck.
Scope 2B: Signage between Cliffe and Grainport, updated signage.
Scope 2C: Track repair work.
Scope 2D: Installation of distribution network operator supply, functional supply of supply point signalling, installation of charging facilities at Sharnal Street Station.
Supply: January 2023
Start on site: July 2023
Duration 26-30 weeks
3: Main railway works – £41m
Scope 3A: Level Crossing Works, Mainline Signalling, Mainline Crossing, Installation of Track Loops, Installation of Signaling between Hoo Junction and Sharnal Street Station (Network Rail works approval required).
Scope 3B: Construction of Sharnal Street Station, including station building, platforms, car park and access road, together with associated drainage and earthworks and hard landscaping and slack (Network Rail works approval may be required).
Supply: January 2024
Start on site: July 2024
Duration: 64 weeks
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