Transport minister Andrew Adonis has announced £2.5 million of Government funding for preparatory research in double tracking the 12 mile route between Swindon and Gloucester.
Lord Adonis said: “My Department will now work with the South West Regional Assembly and Welsh Assembly Government to explore other funding opportunities for the full scheme. The co-ordination between three organisations is a demonstration of the importance of this project.
The funding will allow engineers to carry out a full evaluation of the existing route and produce detailed plans for work to be done.
Depending on the outcome of the report and funding for the project being secured, work on doubling 12-miles of single track into two lines on this busy Swindon to Gloucester route could start as early as next year.