The extension of the Botley Road site working hours will not lead to drilling throughout the night, a Network Rail director has revealed.

Network Rail has announced that new 24/7 working hours will kick in from September 2 in order to make up for works grinding to a halt when a brick arch was unexpectedly found in June.

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Oxford Mail: Botley Road worksBotley Road works (Image: Ed Halford)

Amid fears that longer working hours could cause noise at night and be disruptive, Claire Mahoney, Network Rail’s industry programme director, told the Oxford Mail during a site visit that all of the noisy activities such as drilling would be done during the day.

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Oxford Mail: Claire MahoneyClaire Mahoney (Image: Ed Halford)

She said: “During the night, we will be doing quieter works which will need to continue to maintain the site programme.”

From August 14 (Monday), teams on the site have been working from 7am until 7pm seven days a week.

Ms Mahoney said the arch’s discovery had caused a “slight impact on the project programme” as the methodology of works needed to change to accommodate the utilities diversion.

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Oxford Mail: Botley Road siteBotley Road site (Image: Ed Halford)

She said that between 10 and 15 workers would be carrying out work during the night and during the day this number rises to between 20 and 25.

Ms Mahoney said: “We are moving to the 24 hours working schedule to mitigate some of that and reviewing the options to see how that might need to influence some of the later stages of the works.”

Oxford Mail: Works at the Botley Road siteWorks at the Botley Road site (Image: Ed Halford)

Botley Road first closed on April 11 and the closure is expected to last until October so the £161 million upgrade of Oxford station can take place.

The upgrade will mean an additional platform and western entrance to the station.

Ms Mahoney suggested Network Rail are still aiming to keep to this deadline for re-opening the road.

Oxford Mail: Botley Road worksBotley Road works (Image: Ed Halford)

Visiting the site yesterday morning, Mark Dodd from Oxford archaeology said: “We didn’t really know what would be underneath the ground.

Oxford Mail: Mark Dodd on the siteMark Dodd on the site (Image: Ed Halford)

“Any opportunity to have an insight is always interesting.

“Our role is to be present for all the excavations they are doing for these station works.”

The new work schedule plans to concentrate on safely removing the brick arch before work to divert the utilities below Botley Road can continue.

Back in July, Philip Morton, project manager at Network Rail, and David Paull, stakeholder manager for Oxford station project, told the Oxford Mail the discovery of an historic arch meant they would be asking Oxford City Council to “extend the permitted working hours” and this put sticking to the timetable for the works in doubt.

Mr Morton explained that the next stage of works included “installing piles to stabilise the bridge while we excavate the brickwork before we can continue to divert the utilities.”

Oxford Mail: Botley Road siteBotley Road site (Image: Ed Halford)

He said: “Going forward, we will be working day and night so we can gain back some of the time lost, with the majority of the noisy work planned to take place during the day, to minimise disruption for the local community.”

Work on the site also had to come to a sudden halt on July 20 (Thursday) when the area had to be evacuated due to the discovery of a WWII era hand grenade within the work site, close by to the railway tracks.

Officers from British Transport Police attended the incident, alongside personnel from Explosives Ordinance Disposal.

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Ed specialises in writing political stories for the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times.

He joined in the team in February 2023, after completing a History undergraduate degree at the University of York and studying for his NCTJ diploma in London.

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