Swindon is a major junction, where the former Great Western Railway line to Gloucester and Cheltenham, the Great Western Main Line to Bristol Temple Meads and the Great Western Railway route to Bristol Parkway and South Wales diverge. A detailed and interesting history of the Swindon-to-Gloucester line can be found at: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/davidlloyd/CGWURLYHOME.htm
Network Rail had plans to redouble the track between Swindon and Kemble. From the laying of that track in 1842 to 1968 it was double-track. However, the anti-rail mania that existed in the 1960s saw British Rail remove 12 miles of the second track in 1968. There is heavy interest in getting the second track put back, since it would greatly improve the rail services into Gloucester and Cheltenham from London. Network Rail had planned that work for late 2008, then September 2009 (2007 Network Rail business plan). Lately, however, the Office of Rail Regulation has omitted that work from N.R.'s 2009-2014 plans. Those plans are in draft, and at present (July 2008) submissions are being accepted by O.R.R. for amending the plans. All of the Cotswolds' MPs, Gloucestershire County Council, Network Rail and First Great Western are intending to make a submission to the O.R.R. before the 4 September 2008 deadline to modify the plans to include Swindon-Kemble. More information on this is available at the Gloucestershire Transport website (http://www.visit-gloucestershire.co.uk/boards/). A recent Parliamentary debate on Swindon-Kemble can be read at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2008-06-30a.703.0&m=1494
With the railway passing through town in early 1841, the Goddard Arms public house in Old Swindon was used as a railway booking office in lieu of a station. Tickets purchased included the fare for a horse-drawn carriage to the line at the bottom of the hill.
Swindon railway station opened in 1842 with construction of the Great Western Railway's engineering works continuing. Until 1895 every train stopped here for at least 10 minutes to change locomotives. Swindon station hosted the first recorded railway refreshment rooms, divided according to class. Swindonians for a time were eminently proud that even the current King and Queen of the time had partaken of refreshments there. The station in 1842 was of three storeys, with the refreshment rooms on the ground floor, the upper floors comprising the station hotel and lounge. The building was demolished in 1972, with today's modern station and office block erected on the site.
It was announced in December 2005 that stations in the Thames Valley region were going to be upgraded.
Improvements to Swindon station were:
Ticket barriers are in the main entrance subway and at the foot of the access stairs, adjacent to the Research Council buildings on the north side of the line. The barriers are in place to prevent access to the platforms without a valid ticket. Unfortunately the barriers mean that the station is no longer a through route across the line.