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Electrification of Great Western beyond Newbury being ‘considered’

The government has said there is a “very good business case” for expanding the electrification of the Great Western Main Line out another 13.5 miles from Newbury to Bedwyn.

The move is being “considered” by the government, rail minister Stephen Hammond MP has revealed, following on from the 2012/3 Arup study into further electrification west of Newbury, which suggested a capital cost of just under £100m (2010 prices, including optimism bias, see table below).

Hammond said: “We have already seen some of that study's results, which indicate that there is a very good business case for going to Bedwyn, and further results from that study are being considered by the department.”

Lib Dem MP Adrian Sanders had originally asked about electrification all the way to Penzance, but the minister did not address that wider issue.

The Arup report, published in June 2013, showed that the DfT asked for four options to be considered:

1) From Newbury to Bedwyn.

2) Extending from Bedwyn to Westbury including electrification into Westbury Yard to facilitate electric freight.

3) Extending from Bedwyn to quarries beyond Westbury with connections for freight use.

4) The diversionary routes through Trowbridge to Bath and Thingley Junction via Melksham.

bedwyn table

Discussing the potential cost, Arup wrote: “The key assumptions underpinning the Option 1 [Newbury to Bedwyn] capital cost estimates are:

• It has been assumed that the platforms at Bedwyn will be extended to around 200m each to accommodate the IEP services.

• Bedwyn Turnback Siding assumed to be 200m long.

• Traction power supply for this route section is continued from the end of electrification at Newbury supplied by Bramley ATFS (Autotransformer Feeder Station).

The main drivers of cost for Option 1 are:

• Bedwyn Platform extension: £1.25m.

• Newbury Station and Hungerford Station footbridge reconstruction: £0.65m each.

• Two overline bridges (at Bone Mill lane and Dunn’s Mill). Total £0.87m.

• Support structures and wiring: £1.79m.

• Power between Newbury-Bedwyn: two autotransformers and 20lm power cables. Total £15.0m.

• Signalling and Telecommunications (S&T): immunisation of signals at Bedwyn and Hungerford: £9.6m.

FGW managing director Mark Hopwood said: “The government’s commitment to invest in the rail network and in new trains is an essential piece of the jigsaw in improving passenger journeys, and reliability, across our network.

“The extension of electrification as far as Bedwyn during the initial first phase, and prior to the 2019-2024 period, makes good economic sense – supporting the communities we serve by delivering another revolution in passenger travel.”

(Image copyright: Network Rail)

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


Sam Page   07/05/2014 at 10:31

It would make more sense to restore and electrify the line for another 6 miles, beyond Bedwyn, up to Marlborough, using the old Great Western route. The busy tourist town of Marlborough could then be the terminus for this new service, rather than the sleepy village of Bedwyn...

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