Network Rail says why 24-hour work hasn’t started at Botley Road

The rail infrastructure body was given the green light last month to work 24/7 on the project, with the new shift pattern expected to begin on Saturday night (September 2).

However, Network Rail yesterday confirmed that because construction workers are currently digging foundations, it would have been too noisy to work through the night.

Confusingly, perhaps, writing on Twitter on Sunday morning, the Network Rail Western corporate account posted: “We’ve had our 1st night working under Oxford’s Botley Rd bridge. We’re now have [sic] to work 24/7 to tackle an underground brick arch so we can get on with diverting pipes & cables.”

When the Oxford[1] Mail visited the Botley Road site at 11pm on Saturday night, there was no sign of work being done beneath the bridge.

A pair of despondent-looking diggers, facing each other but with their cabs turned to avoid meeting the other’s eye, could be seen in the same position they were in at 9pm. The new ‘night shift’ is understood to begin at 10pm, running until 6am.

No construction workers were seen beneath the bridge, although it was not possible to see whether work was being done on other parts of the site.

🌃We’ve had our 1st night working under Oxford's Botley Rd bridge

⏱️ We’re now have to work 24/7 to tackle an underground brick arch so we can get on with diverting pipes & cables.

ℹ️ Stay up to date - sign up to our newsletter: #OxfordshireConnect[2][3][4]

— Network Rail Western (@networkrailwest) September 3, 2023[5]

A Network Rail spokeswoman said in a statement on Monday: “Under our agreement with the local council, we are now able to work 24-hour shifts when required.

“After listening to the concerns raised recently by local residents and businesses, we are ensuring that the nosiest work is carried out during daylight hours, with quieter work taking place at night.”

She added: “Currently we are carrying out piling – drilling foundations into the road surface and deep underground to secure the stability of the structure – which will continue for the coming weeks.

“As this is noisy, all piling work this weekend was carried out between 8am and 6pm on Saturday and Sunday to ensure that there was no disturbance to residents and businesses overnight.

“Once we reach the stage[6] where the piling is completed and we can dig up the road, we will do the quieter work overnight to maximise the use of 24-hour working.”

It is hoped that round-the-clock working will help get the £161m station improvement project back on schedule. The unexpected discovery of a historic brick arch beneath the railway bridge has slowed progress.

Botley Road is expected to reopen at the end of October. A further closure is planned between March and October next year, when the bridge over the road will be replaced.


  1. ^ Oxford (
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  5. ^ September 3, 2023 (
  6. ^ stage (