Latest Rail News


GWML electrification dates revealed

Sir Peter Hendy has revealed the completion dates of each element of the delayed Great Western Main Line electrification programme in an updated report today (22 January).

All elements of the programme will only start seeing electric trains running in CP6 (2019-2024), but the dates set for infrastructure authorisation are:

  • Maidenhead to Didcot: December 2017
  • Didcot to Wootton Bassett Junction: December 2018
  • Wootton Bassett Junction to Bristol Parkway: December 2018
  • Reading to Newbury: December 2018
  • Bristol Parkway to Cardiff: December 2018
  • Didcot to Oxford: June 2019
  • Wootton Bassett Junction to Bristol Temple Meads: February 2019-April 2020
  • Filton Bank: Early CP6

The update comes two months after his long-awaited review of all CP5 projects was published, under which no projects were cancelled, most would go ahead as planned, but many “unrealistic and undeliverable” milestones were pushed back into CP6.

Part of this portfolio was the Great Western electrification scheme, which had already suffered a series of setbacks due to poor productivity linked to buried cables, inefficient use of midweek access, permissions and design standards, and many other issues. The costs also swelled massively.

At the time of his November review, Sir Peter said work to update the programme was “being concluded as this report is completed”.

As already indicated then, the Network Rail chair reiterated in today’s report that electrification beyond Cardiff will be kicked to CP6. Works between Bristol Parkway to Cardiff, originally expected for 2017, will see infrastructure completed by December 2018 and the first electric trains introduced in CP6 (providing trains are completed in time).

All of these dates are also based on a series of assumptions, including that signalling renewals projects will be completed on time, as well as the remodelling of Bristol East Junction and Oxford.

Currently, Hitachi’s InterCity Express Programme remains on schedule to deliver the new Class 800/801 fleet on the GWML by 2017. Given that the electrification scheme is running late, the Class 800 bi-mode trains will not be able to use their electric capabilities. The Class 801 fleet will be entirely electric.

Also today, the Department for Transport has launched a consultation on Sir Peter’s re-plan report, set to run until 18 March. Subject to feedback, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP is expected to accept the review’s reformed milestones.


Malcolm   22/01/2016 at 16:45

No date for Heathrow Junction to Maidenhead? I know this comes under "Crossrail" and not "GW" but would be interesting to know when this is expected to be comissioned

Jakjaye   22/01/2016 at 21:07

By the time(if) its all done the trains will be wedged from day one,this mob couldnt run a bath!

Lutz   23/01/2016 at 22:06

A little disappointing that Bristol has been pushed so far back, and will now be delivered after Cardiff. With those dates, and the new dates for other re-profiled projects, there is also going to be quite an impact on the amount of new work that can be added in CP6 - even if NR does manage to lift it's productivity. I suspect that NR will loose control of major projects, with the capital budget cut along with the cuts anticipated with the funding changes that are also being discussed. We may not see NR get such a big wish-list from teh Government in future years.

Pedr   05/02/2016 at 16:57

May I ask what is happening to the Oxford - Bletchley line? It seems portacabins were on site at Verney Junction for work to begin, but they have now disappeared again.

Middle Tom   10/02/2016 at 10:37

The Hendy Plan update referred to in the article has dates for all NR projects and is available via the Network Rail website. For Oxford - Bletchley (part of EWR2) it shows the design work (called GRIP 4) to complete in December 2019. Construction will start after this. Last I heard the disused track to Bletchley is to be rebuilt with twin track. The portacabins were probably related to preliminary groundwork investigations to drill boreholes, test pits etc to collect information for track design. Try for news.

John Gilbert   10/02/2016 at 17:58

I have to agree with Jakjaye above. The new oxymoron is clearly 'British efficiency and competence'! This whole farrago is utterly pathetic. How ON EARTH did we ever build the railways in the 19th century? (Answer probably: Fewer politicians meddling!)

David Kerr   12/02/2016 at 14:40

Why are there so many people only too ready to decry this project as it is really down to the economic downturn throughout the world which governs the monies that can be made available during this time of fiscal restraint!

Marti Murray   20/05/2016 at 15:52

Stalinisation of GWML! Thrilled about electrification until I saw the OLE marching towards Didcot. I found photos of ECML, WCML, HS1 & proposed HS2 and all have OLE looking streamlined, modern and with much less adverse visual impact. Why and how have we ended up with this ugly industrial grade OLE reminiscent of Stalin's 1930s rush to industrialise the Soviet Union? Talk about disfiguring the countryside! Is this the South's punishment for not bearing the brunt of the Industrial Revolution?

Paul Jones   24/08/2016 at 19:22

There will be no class 801 on the GWML all trains are going to be class 800 bio mode because of the Network Rail fiasco regarding electrification as for the class 387 emu for the thames valley they are going to be used between London Paddington and Hayes and Harlington so by the time they get down to Reading they are half way to be being ruined what a shambolic shambles

Tony Pearce   15/11/2016 at 17:18

I used to work on Computer projects 25 years ago. They went in on time and on Budget. In those days we had no idea if we could do it to the Published Dateline as we were working on new Technology and Software. However Railway Electrification is a totally known quantity. Its been done many times before. Even the cost of the wire and steel is known to the nearest £1. All Projects need a little wiggle room of possibly 5 to 10%. But this scheme is hopelessly out. I have watched the pylons and wires go up from my home Station in Tilehurst and it does seem horrendously slow progress. All I can guess is that someone 'improved' the original Plans to get the Government to sign up for the scheme. I really can't believe that the Team that did the original design could be so hopelessly wrong.

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Delays to Crossrail could ‘push HS2 off track’

16/10/2018Delays to Crossrail could ‘push HS2 off track’

Delays and cost overruns on the Crossrail project could have a significant impact on HS2, according to the Construction Products Association (CPA... more >
HS2 Phase 2 boss defends 12-month bill delay: ‘We actually proposed this ourselves’

16/10/2018HS2 Phase 2 boss defends 12-month bill delay: ‘We actually proposed this ourselves’

The outgoing boss of HS2 Phase 2b has defended the one-year setback in introducing legislation to Parliament, arguing that the move was “es... more >
Britain’s worst railway stations for delays and cancellations revealed

16/10/2018Britain’s worst railway stations for delays and cancellations revealed

The worst railway stations in the UK for late trains and cancellations have been revealed, with ten of the busiest seeing over half of all servic... 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


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 >
Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >
Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

23/01/2018Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

RTM’s Josh Mines catches up with Mark Somers, project director for Thameslink, on how the final stages of the programme are progressing and... 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

The East Coast franchise report tells us what we already knew: it was a bid set up to fail

18/09/2018The East Coast franchise report tells us what we already knew: it was a bid set up to fail

RTM's Jack Donnelly assesses what the Transport Committee's latest report on the VTEC franchise means for the industry as a whole “Eve... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Northern Powerhouse Rail: The need for change

18/09/2018Northern Powerhouse Rail: The need for change

Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) will be transformational for the north – it will change the way people live, work, and play. It will rebalan... more >
Innovation through people and technology

18/09/2018Innovation through people and technology

Ian Prosser, HM chief inspector of railways and director of railway safety at the ORR, picks out the key industry challenges to focus on based on... more >
Why we all must mind the gap

18/09/2018Why we all must mind the gap

Clair Mowbray, chief executive of the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR), explains how we can all ensure the UK’s next generation... more >
3D printing: from virtual to real

11/09/20183D printing: from virtual to real

Like so many other technological advancements, 3D printing has moved from being the stuff of science fiction, through niche industrial applicatio... more >