Berkshire

Network Rail apologises for Goring Gap gantries

Gantries near Goring Gap Image copyright Save the Goring Gap
Image caption Campaigners describe the gantries near Goring Gap as "huge metal goalposts"

Network Rail has apologised for building large new gantries in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty without consulting nearby residents.

Installed near Goring Gap in the Chilterns, they are the latest step in the electrification of the Great Western Railway.

Residents have criticised the gantries for ruining the landscape.

The rail operator met with villagers on Thursday and promised a consultation on alternative designs.

'Absolutely horrible'

The company is undertaking a 10-year modernisation programme on the line at a cost of up to £1.74bn.

This includes upgrades along the section between Reading and Didcot, Oxfordshire.

Goring resident Roy McMillan said: "There was no foreknowledge of the actual design Network Rail has used... it is heavily, heavily over-engineered."

Roy McMillan, chair of South Stoke Parish Council, said there was an "absolute forest" of the new gantries "stretching over in the distance towards Didcot".

He added: "They're absolutely horrible... people see them the whole time, every day of their life".

But Lucy Murfitt, from the Chiltern Conservation Board, said the meeting at the village hall had been positive.

She added: "They've now conceded there's a problem and they're going to look at redesigning and removing them which is fantastic, and they're going to involve us in it and consult the public."

But she said campaigners needed to keep the pressure up because of "significant caveats".

Network Rail said developing new designs was a "complex process" that involved "balancing the need for the designs to be less visually intrusive with requirements around safety, reliability and operational efficiency".

It added: "We apologise to residents for not carrying out the public consultation before the installation of the existing overhead line equipment.

"Going forward we are committed to working with them and other stakeholders on alternative designs."

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