Wednesday 14 Jun 2017
Electrification a step closer after successful railway upgrade in Wiltshire
Electrification on the Great Western mainline has moved a step closer after Network Rail successfully upgraded the railway in Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett over the weekend as part of their Railway Upgrade Plan.
Network Rail’s Orange Army has been working in the Wiltshire towns over the weekend of June 10 and 11 so the track could be lowered beneath Hunts Mill Bridge in Royal Wootton Bassett and Roman Road Bridge in Swindon. This was to create space for the overhead line equipment necessary for electrification.
As well as lowering the track, the parapets (or sides) of both bridges were made higher to provide a safe distance between those using the bridge and the high-voltage electricity cables.
These crucial works pave the way for the arrival of a fleet of new, longer Intercity Express Trains later this year, bringing more seats per train and adding greater comfort for passengers. These trains will then run on electric through Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett from December 2018.
Garry Fernand, Network Rail project manager, said: “The improvements carried out in Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan are extensive but essential in order to bring our railway into the 21st century and improve passengers' experience.
“We’d like to thank residents and motorists for their patience and understanding during this upgrade, which will pave the way for electrification and the benefits this will bring.”
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.