Rail passengers to benefit from biggest ever Christmas railway upgrade success: A bridge was demolished at Royal Wootton Bassett as electrification work continues

Thursday 5 Jan 2017

Rail passengers to benefit from biggest ever Christmas railway upgrade success


Passengers across West London, the Thames Valley, and the West will benefit from an improved railway following Network Rail’s biggest ever Christmas upgrade.


Over a 10 day period £30million of work was delivered at Paddington, Hayes & Harlington, Acton, Royal Wootton Bassett and Chippenham as part of the largest Christmas upgrade in Network Rail’s history.  


Some of the benefits from the upgrade are already available for passengers with platform extensions at Hayes & Harlington station allowing new electric trains to run on a new half hourly service to London Paddington from January 3. The upgraded service means there is now up to an additional 6,550 seats a day.


This work along with a platform extension at Slough, remodelling of Maidenhead station, signalling works at Didcot, station works at Swindon and piling work at Chippenham have all been delivered to pave the way for electrification. The new electric trains running between Hayes & Harlington and London Paddington will also run to Maidenhead in early summer. Later this year new Intercity Express trains will also start to be introduced across the Great Western network.


At London Paddington, the footbridge across Platforms 1 to 5 was raised and platforms 12 was extended to prepare for the new longer electric trains running from Hayes and Harlington; and in preparation for new Intercity Express trains.


Passengers on all services into and out of London Paddington, and future Crossrail passengers, will benefit from the removal of two significant bottlenecks thanks to a new flyover at Hayes and Harlington and a ‘dive-under’ at Acton which will enable rail lines to flow more freely with less delay. It will also allow Elizabeth line services to operate without impeding existing services when they are introduced in 2018 between Reading and central and east London.


Mark Langman, Network Rail’s route managing director, said: “It is fantastic to see our biggest ever Christmas upgrade benefitting so many passengers already – it’s what they have been asking us to do. The new electric trains running from Hayes & Harlington to London Paddington are a true upgrade – to have thousands of extra seats, more frequent trains and a more reliable service is just the start of an exciting time for the railway in our region.


“The upgrade will also see wider benefits with bottlenecks reduced and significant work delivered in preparation for electrification on the Great Western main line. We’d like to thank passengers who showed great patience with the disrupted services whilst we delivered this critical work over this year’s festive season.”


Nick Crossfield, managing director at Alstom UK & Ireland, who helped deliver the Paddington upgrade said: “Alstom is proud to have supported Network Rail’s orange army this Christmas, successfully delivering vital signalling upgrades on the western route near Paddington. Passengers will see immediate benefits to their journeys, and together we have also laid important groundwork for the successful introduction of Crossrail and the digital railway on this route. We look forward to continuing our close partnership with Network Rail in 2017.”

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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.

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