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Crossrail moves forward with completion of electrification on major route

Crossrail took a step forward this week as Network Rail (NR) announced that electrification work had been completed on the 12-mile stretch of railway from Maidenhead to Stockley Junction.

The project of electrification will allow new Great Western Railway (GWR) trains to run on the track when they are introduced in May – and in the longer term will support the delivery of the new Elizabeth line – which will allow Thames Valley passengers to travel through central London without having to change onto the underground at Paddington.

NR has worked over three years to install more than 1,400 overhead structures, or 140 miles, of overhead wires that will power the electric trains.

The majority of the work was undertaken at weekends, bank holidays and early hours of the morning to minimise disruption for passengers.

Mark Langman, route managing director of NR, described the completion of the 12 miles of railway as a “major milestone,” for NR’s Railway Upgrade Plan – of which the delivery of an electrified Great Western Mainline and the construction of the Elizabeth Line is a huge part.

“From May this year more passengers will see immediate benefits with brand new, cleaner, quieter electric trains operating between Maidenhead and Paddington.,” said Langman. “On behalf of NR I would like to thank passengers, local residents, businesses and local authorities for their patience and permission to deliver this huge programme of railway upgrade work at anti-social hours, weekends and every bank holiday for the last three years.

“Without their support, it simply would not have been possible to electrify the Great Western Mainline to deliver new improved passenger services and pave the way for the Elizabeth Line.”

And Mark Hopwood, GWR managing director, said: “The Thames Valley is one of the most popular rail corridors in the UK. We have promised the current fleet would be upgraded to provide much needed additional capacity and more comfortable, quieter journeys.”

Hopwood added that GWR had already started to run half hourly new electric trains in January, creating over 10,000 more seats a day between London Paddington and Hayes & Harlington.

“We look forward to being able to extend these services beyond Hayes to Maidenhead this coming May as NR continues its work to upgrade the railway,” he said.

Matthew White, Crossrail surface director, agreed that the completion of this major piece of work paved the way for new, quicker, quieter trains along the line between Maidenhead and Stockley Junction.

“Once the Elizabeth Line opens fully in 2019, passengers from the Thames Valley will be able to catch one train all the way through central London, providing a direct link to a range of destinations, including the West End, the City and Canary Wharf,” said White.

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Andrew Gwilt   29/03/2017 at 16:12

Network Rail are still doing a good job on electrifying the GWML. But how comes that they will only electrify as far as Bristol Parkway, Cardiff Central and Swansea and not electrify to Bristol Temple Meads, Exeter St. Davis and Oxford. Even though new Class 800's and Class 802's are to be built for GWR to operate on both electrified and non-electrified routes across the GWR network to/from London Paddington.

Jimbo   29/03/2017 at 17:58

@Andrew Gwilt - do you actually read anything on this site ? Try looking at the following articles - and The second of these is actually on the front page of the site!!

Andrew Gwilt   29/03/2017 at 18:40

Thanks Jimbo.

Melvyn   29/03/2017 at 23:21

Completion of this electrification is positive news at last . It's worth remembering that the electrification to Maidenhead was initiated as part of the Crossrail project and thus before the main GWR electrification which once authorised together with the major rebuild of Reading Station allowed Crossrail to be extended to where the original plans were for before Scheme was cut back to Maidenhead. Given the problems of costs and delays to GWR electrification it would be interesting to know whether there was much difference in costs and delivery of the electrification to Maidenhead as part of Crossrail for which TFL was responsible and electrification west of Maidenhead as part of the main GWR electrification?

Andrew Gwilt   30/03/2017 at 01:41

And possibly the electrification to extend to Reading as there are plans ahead to extend the electrification to Reading and further afield.

Steveb   30/03/2017 at 09:26

Good news about electrification as far as Maidenhead - and it looks from recent journeys as if preparations for erecting pylons are well advanced to Didcot and also between Didcot and Oxford. So why has NR delayed the completion of a scheme that would allow electric commuter trains to travel all the way between Oxford and Paddington? Surely the operational benefits of converting a whole route would be worth making this a priority.

Tothehills   30/03/2017 at 10:06

Steveb: I think you will find that it is the DoT that terminated the electrification to Oxford not NR. The intention of GWR is to operate 800s and 801s to Oxford running on diesel power; essentially the DoT is copping out by using the bi-mode facility to dig themselves out of a hole of their own creation and letting NR take all the blame. I have a horrible suspicion that it will be a very long time before Bath and Bristol Temple Meads get electrified, especially given the political chaos that is bound to come in the near future.

Steveb   30/03/2017 at 10:21

Tothehills: Yes, I was aware that it's the DoT and not NR that controls the purse-strings, and that the bi-mode capability of the 800s and 801s would allow an express service of sorts to run to Oxford. My focus was on the replacement of Class 165s and 166s. It would be really messy to have electric trains for only part of the journey to Oxford, so it's likely that several Thames Turbos would be retained a few more years instead of being cascaded to provide extra capacity further west, while electric stock would stand idle in the sidings at Reading. This is 'robbing Peter to pay Paul'!

Noam Bleicher   30/03/2017 at 15:57

I support the decision to prioritise Cardiff and Bristol over Oxford - and I live in Oxford. These two large cities are, frankly, more important. THere is also the matter of the IEP trains which would otherwise be laid up costing £400k/day. THe 387s destined for Oxford, on the other hand, can find work elsewhere in the interim in away the IEPs cannot.

Jimbo   30/03/2017 at 19:15

@Melvyn - it is worth noting the Crossrail is still, just about, on budget, so that suggests its electrification to Maidenhead has gone a lot smoother than the rest of the GWML electrification. It is also worth noting that Crossrail applied for and got a number of exemptions from european rail standards, so this may have reduced the amount of rework they have had to do compared to the GWML project. Apparently, wiring work from Maidenhead to Reading is now proceeding ahead of target (that is the revised target), so there may be a chance of electric trains to Reading before the planned December cutover.

Andrew G   30/03/2017 at 21:40

If only Network Rail could of replaced the older overhead structures as they are to replace the older overhead wires on the GEML and on the Southend Victoria Line but only some of the older overhead structures can be removed but others are supported by concrete foundations and can't be removed unless some have been removed. Also there could be improvements to be made on the c2c with replacing overhead wires on the Fenchurch Street line between Fenchurch Street and Bromley-by-Bow/West Ham as new overhead structures and overhead wires could be installed to replace the older overhead wires and overhead structures including replacing the overhead wires at Limehouse station.

Essex Boy Commuter   02/04/2017 at 00:54

Work has already been taken place on the Shenfield-Southend Victoria line with new pillars being placed and with new overhead masts and structures being erected. Hopefully the new overhead wires should be erected throughout this year including Easter and as always on a weekend. With the older overhead wires to be taken down and to be taken for scrap since the Southend Victoria line was electrified in the 1950's and the overhead wires were energised with 1500v DC before the overhead wires were converted and re-energised to 25000v (25kv) AC. And the new overhead wires don't sag during hot weather conditions and are designed to taut in any weather conditions.

Boris   02/04/2017 at 23:15

Is this "Essex Boy Commuter" another friend of Andrew's?

Robert The Robot Rowboat   08/04/2017 at 08:05

Not a single mention of Balfour Beatty anywhere in the article. Knowing RMT's usual practices, BBR presumably declined to take out a full page advert and were conveniently scrubbed from history.

Andrew Gwilt   09/04/2017 at 15:44

@Boris. For the last time. It is not me ok. Stop asking me that question ok. Jesus christ Boris. Are you apparently trolling me!

Andrew G   09/04/2017 at 15:46

I think Boris gets confused on which "Andrew" has commented.

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