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GWR continues infrastructure project with new timetable planned

The next phase of the project to build and improve infrastructure along the Great Western main line is set to begin.

Upcoming work will focus on delivering upgrades to high-speed routes from Paddington to Newbury, Oxford, Bristol, South Wales and the Cotswolds.

The project will see the biggest change in capability so far on the GWR route, culminating in a new timetable aimed at improving journey times on high speed routes and increasing capacity on regional services.

This upgrade is expected to enable the introduction of electric commuter services between London Paddington and Reading, as well as Didcot and Newbury. Other services in Bristol and the west country will also see infrastructure improvements that will allow bigger and longer trains.

GWR began modernisation work in Bristol last month as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan and this new project is expected to complement the previous electrification work.

Adam Andrews, director of the project for WSP, the communications company for the work, said the modernisation would indicate the ending of a three-year plan.

He continued: “The challenge in the new project will be to support the entry into service of the new Intercity Express Trains (IET) and one of the biggest timetable changes to the Western route.

“In this unique role we will continue to implement our ‘whole system’ approach to bring greater collaboration to the rail industry partners to address the complex technical and programme challenges.”

The first batch of GWR’s IETs are now running along lines between London and Bristol following a rocky start.

The Hitachi Class 800s are expected to increase capacity on this line by 24% and is an early example of the general goals across GWR’s modernisation projects.

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Huguenot   09/11/2017 at 17:56

There won't be any improvement in journey times until the wires are up all the way to Bristol and Cardiff. The Class 800 diesel engines are underpowered and any time gained over HST timings east of Didcot will be lost west thereof. Jam tomorrow.

Rushaune Mclennon   09/11/2017 at 22:11

I'm waitinf for the wires to be up and live so that Class 387s can begin operating between London and Oxford hopefully then 387s will be timed for 110mph at the same time especially on the fast Oxford services.

Andrew Gwilt   10/11/2017 at 03:11

I agree with Rushaune. The electrification to Newbury and Oxford will still get the go ahead. And if that’s good news on Network Rail to extend the electrification to Newbury and Oxford. Then possibly the electrification to Swansea might still happen.

Jimbo   10/11/2017 at 09:20

Just to be clear, electrification from Didcot to Oxford is still on hold and the electrification to Swansea is cancelled. Reading to Newbury is already electrified. What this article is talking about is mostly timetable changes to make use of the class 800s, and the 387s through Reading to Didcot and Newbury. The only major infrastructure work currently going on is the four-tracking of Filton bank in Bristol.

Noam   10/11/2017 at 10:37

It would make sense that, eventually, the fast Oxfords will go over to IEPs. What of the slow Oxfords though? With no wires north of Didcot will there be a Cl 16x Turbo shuttle to Didcot, to connect with Cl 387 stopping services, or to Reading, to connect with the 4 tph Crossrail service?

Huguenot   10/11/2017 at 11:19

No, Jimbo, Reading to Newbury is not already electrified. The (massive) masts are going up now and then it will be wired. Yes there will be a shuttle stopper from Didcot to Oxford, but there will also be regular fast IEPs from London to Oxford, with an hourly train continuing over the North Cotswold line to Worcester. My guess is that the Didcot to Oxford traffic will eventually make it worthwhile to electrify that section, but that the DfT is not promising because it doesn't want to hand NR more electrification work on a plate after the colossal mess that it has made over the rest of the GW electrification project. The DfT wants to see real progress in reducing the cost before it will authorise any more. Bedford-Corby will perhaps be the test.

Ampox   10/11/2017 at 12:50

Before electrification to Oxford happens we need to sort out Oxford station. Network Rail has more or less said that the present site is unsuitable for the extra services that will be coming. The alternative of a new station at the Oxpens appears to have been torpedoed by the City Council allowing part of the site to be used for student accommodation. Maybe compulsory purchase and demolition in due course?

Jimbo   10/11/2017 at 13:45

My mistake, Reading to Newbury is the next stage to be electrified after Reading to Didcot - I misread the statement. Oxford city council are proposing a massive rebuild of Oxford station, which means electrification is likely to remain on hold until that is underway.

David   10/11/2017 at 23:33

DfT were the ones making a colossal hash out of it by forcing Network Rail to act on the MML and TPE before they were ready to apply the lessons learned on GWEp

Mark Hare   13/11/2017 at 13:02

@Ampox and Jimbo - the work at Oxford station is already underway and has been for well over a year. Two bay platforms at the north end have been brought back into use and the Up sidings are in the process of being moved/remodelled. There is also a proposal for a new Down through platform at the back of the current Platform 4 and many signalling improvements are also in the process of being introduced.

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