Network Rail and Great Western Railway have thanked passengers and lineside neighbours for their patience following the on-time completion of a programme of railway improvement works in the south west and Thames Valley areas. The work – which took place over the Christmas and New Year period – was part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, an extensive programme of work totalling £60m, designed to prepare the Great Western Main Line for the arrival of electrification, the new fleet of electric trains and Crossrail services from 2018.
The work totalled more than 325,000 orange army hours worked and included major track and signalling upgrades at locations in Berkshire and west London including Maidenhead, Acton, Old Oak Common and Stockley; station upgrades at Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Hayes & Harlington, Southall and Maidenhead; the upgrading of overhead power lines between Acton and the junction to Heathrow airport; and the re-alignment of tracks at Heathrow junction. Additional work included electrification preparation works in west London and Berkshire; the extension of platform 14 at Paddington Station in preparation for the longer electric trains; and the replacement of Stratton Green bridge in Swindon with a new, higher bridge.
Overall, the scheme involved the installation of: 1,527 metres of new track; 6,300 concrete sleepers; 57,800 tons of ballast (the stones under the track); 11 new sets of points; 25 new signals; 174 miles of new signal cables; 11 new under track crossings for signal cables; 176 foundations for the overhead electrification equipment; 134 electrification masts (the vertical steel structure); 123 electrification booms (the horizontal steel structure); and more than 11,700 metres of new overhead electrification wiring.
Network Rail’s Managing Director for the Western route, Mark Langman, said:
“Our work over this Christmas and New Year was one of the biggest packages of improvement work on the Western route to date.
“I’m pleased to announce that all the upgrades were completed on time and I’d like to thank passengers and our lineside neighbours for their patience and understanding while this essential modernisation work took place.
“Now these projects are complete, they will pave the way for the new fleet of longer, faster, quieter and greener electric trains, and for the introduction of Crossrail services from 2018 that will provide passengers travelling from the south east with faster journeys and more direct services to London.”
GWR’s Managing Director, Mark Hopwood, said:
“The Great Western network is already seeing the biggest investment since Brunel, and these improvement works will allow passengers to take advantage of the full benefits of electrification; providing newer trains, faster, more frequent services and importantly, given the growth this network has seen in recent years, more seats.”
Electrification will transform the railway between London and Oxford, Newbury, Bristol and Cardiff to deliver a faster, greener, quieter and more reliable railway for passengers, with extra capacity. Electrifying this part of the Great Western route will enhance 235 miles of one of Britain’s busiest and oldest railways, providing a better connection between major towns and cities across southern England and South Wales.
This investment, as well as the introduction of a fleet of new trains, will improve journey times and make services more comfortable, smoother, cleaner and quieter for passengers and people living near the railway.
For more information about the Great Western Electrification Programme, please visit: www.networkrail.co.uk/great-western-route-modernisation