NETWORK Rail has admitted to Wantage MP Ed Vaizey it has had “considerable problems” with its £1bn electrification project so far.

Mr Vaizey, who previously branded the company “incompetent and insensitive”, said directors told him they would work “much harder” to minimise the inevitable disruption the project would cause.

It comes after the rail infrastructure company announced last month that it would have to close Fulscot Bridge in South Moreton, near Didcot, for double the six months already suffered by residents. It has now submitted an application to South Oxfordshire District Council to raise the bridge, after discovering “more work was needed”.

The company is working on electrifying the Great Western Mainline for improved and faster services.

After meeting with directors, Mr Vaizey said: “They have acknowledged that there have been considerable problems in the work done on bridges so far, and that they needed to make considerable improvements to their planning and the way they work with local councils and local communities. I have already seen some evidence of measures being put in place to do so...

“I was also heartened to hear that Network Rail will work much harder with their contractors and the county council to minimise, as far as possible, the inevitable disruption that this work will cause.”

Network Rail spokeswoman Anne-Marie Batson said: “We certainly acknowledged to Mr Vaizey that there have been considerable challenges on the bridge projects and this included Fulscot Bridge.

“We are currently installing new embankments but, unfortunately, more work is needed to bring the road back into line with the bridge and reinforce the arch supports at the sides.

“We will continue working closely with Mr Vaizey’s office, the local authorities, parish and town councils and the community throughout the project to keep everyone informed.”