Latest Rail News


Fears that Thames Valley electrification falling behind schedule

Evidence is building that work to electrify the railways in the Thames Valley is behind schedule, and Network Rail managers have warned that the project is “subject to change”. 

Despite the public statements that electrification of the Great Western Main Line (GWML) is “progressing well”, the programme has suffered because of issues with structures, buried cables, piling and the worse-than-expected performance of the new ‘factory train’ delivering the electrification works. 

The DfT target is for electrification to be completed between Oxford, Newbury, Chippenham and Bristol Parkway in time for the December 2016 timetable change; and from Chippenham to Bristol Temple Meads and from Bristol Temple Meads to Cardiff via Bristol Parkway by December 2017. 

As part of the programme, overhead wires are being fitted between London and Bristol so that Hitachi’s 800 Super Express Train (SETs) cars can run on the line. The trains are expected to enter into passenger service in 2017. 

Victoria Bradley, a spokeswoman for Network Rail, said that the project is a major investment in improving the railway in the region. 

“While work is progressing well and we’re aiming for an end of 2016 target for the Thames Valley, the programme is subject to change and alteration as the scope and needs of the overall project also change,” she added. 

Network Rail’s recently-updated CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan explains: “It should be noted that an efficient profiling workstream is considering all electrification projects and the outcome of this workstream may result in reprofiling the delivery dates of some electrification projects.” 

The update also noted: “GRIP 3 (single option selection) missed for Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway to Cardiff Central. The new date is subject to change until the programme has been re-examined, revised and communicated to the stakeholders. It is acknowledged that this section of the main line includes relatively complex locations that require further and greater study to deliver the best whole-life cost solution. This is supported by the client. The locations agreed in this category – and required to complete GRIP 3 Single Option Selection and fully signed-off Integrated AiP – is limited to Bristol Temple Meads Station and Bristol Parkway Station.” 

Great Western Electrification is not included on Network Rail’s ‘progress and costs of high profile projects’ report. 

On top of the potential delay fears, Network Rail admits that “costs have risen” on the GWML electrification programme. 

Last year, RTM reported that Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne told the DfT that costs had swollen to £1.5bn, far beyond the original £600m estimate, the £874m predicted in the Strategic Business Plan, or the more recent £1bn estimate. 

There is some hope, though, as a First Great Western spokesman added that while “we would expect minor changes to timescales at this stage in such a big project, we are not aware of any problems that will affect implementation dates”. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email 


Lutz   27/02/2015 at 17:53

Why are people not being fired?

Add your comment



rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Clapham Junction disaster lessons are ‘fading’ from rail industry following London Waterloo collision last year, RAIB finds

19/11/2018Clapham Junction disaster lessons are ‘fading’ from rail industry following London Waterloo collision last year, RAIB finds

Errors made during the derailment of a London Waterloo train last year showed lessons learned from the 1988 Clapham Junction disaster were &ldquo... more >
Wales and Borders rail to receive £2bn government funding

19/11/2018Wales and Borders rail to receive £2bn government funding

Network Rail Wales and Borders has announced £2bn in government funding to be spent on a project to maintain and renew the Wales and Border... more >
HS2 kicks off the bid race to build Curzon Street station

19/11/2018HS2 kicks off the bid race to build Curzon Street station

HS2 has announced the start of its search for contractors to build its new £435m Curzon Street station. Around four contractors will b... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News


Finding positives in negative short-circuiting devices

09/11/2018Finding positives in negative short-circuiting devices

Sponsored interview  Anything that brings about safety and time-saving benefits is a valued improvement for the rail industry, which is w... more >
Taking to the skies

30/10/2018Taking to the skies

Network Rail’s commitment to driving innovation is best encapsulated by its latest scheme involving high-definition imagery drones, or UAVs... more >
Going global: an interview with Network Rail’s Leevan Finney

29/08/2018Going global: an interview with Network Rail’s Leevan Finney

RTM’s Jack Donnelly sat down with one of the leading minds behind Network Rail’s most advanced and innovative rail maintenance techno... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Elizabeth Line: short-term pain for long-term gain?

13/11/2018Elizabeth Line: short-term pain for long-term gain?

Tim Bellenger, director of policy and investigation at London TravelWatch, discusses the deferred opening of the central section of the Elizabeth... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Challenging the perceptions of rail

13/11/2018Challenging the perceptions of rail

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Rail Industry Association (RIA) explains how the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme is challenging people’... more >
Data-driven rail

13/11/2018Data-driven rail

Andy Cross, director of Elastacloud, and Lucy Bealing, from the Elastacloud Rail Centre of Excellence, discuss their innovative collaboration wit... more >
Looking ahead to the Williams Review

13/11/2018Looking ahead to the Williams Review

Darren Shirley, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, takes a look at the government’s root and branch review of the rail s... more >
Digital Railway: All change on the ECML

06/11/2018Digital Railway: All change on the ECML

Network Rail route programme director, Toufic Machnouk, explains why only a radically new approach to contracting will deliver a better service f... more >