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Railhub Archive
2013-01-08 NET-005
Network Rail


Network Rail sets out plans for bigger, better railway across the West of England

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Network Rail

Network Rail sets out plans for bigger, better railway across the West of England

8 January 2013
source Network Rail
type Press release

Network Rail today committed to continue the biggest investment in the West of England's railway since the Victorian era, reducing costs and delivering more passengers on time than ever before - but also warned that tough choices need to be made if the industry is to meet these competing challenges.

Network Rail today committed to continue the biggest investment in the West of England's railway since the Victorian era, reducing costs and delivering more passengers on time than ever before - but also warned that tough choices need to be made if the industry is to meet these competing challenges.

The company's strategic business plan for the Western route, which runs from Paddington to south Wales and the south-west of England via the Thames Valley, has been submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation. Designed to respond to and cater for continuing growth in passenger numbers, the plan sets out the biggest programme of improvements to the Great Western main line since it was built 175 years ago.

The number of passengers using the Great Western main line is now more than 50m a year, following a decade in which passenger numbers grew by 42 per cent. This growth has led to severe overcrowding at the busiest times of day on many trains between London and the Thames Valley, with trains between Reading and the capital accounting for six of the 10 most overcrowded rail journeys in Britain.

To meet this challenge, and to provide the extra capacity needed to cater for a further 51 per cent predicted increase in passengers over the next 30 years, Network Rail and rail industry partners will deliver a programme of electrification, signalling upgrades and new, longer trains over the 2014-19 period. This programme will contribute to a wider strategy for London's major rail arteries which will deliver 20 per cent more seats into the capital during the busy morning peak.

Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail route managing director, said: "This programme of investment will deliver the biggest investment in the Great Western main line since it was built 175 years ago. Managing what is essentially a Victorian railway is becoming increasingly difficult and this programme of investment will bring it firmly into the 21st century.

"The improvements will deliver huge benefits to passengers but there will inevitably be trade-offs which need to be made to deliver them. As the railway gets busier, the number of challenges increase and it becomes more complex than ever to run a reliable and cost-effective railway. As a result, we will increasingly have to balance the needs to build and renew infrastructure, run trains on time and reduce costs.

"This plan will provide a bigger and better railway for passengers and help support and drive economic growth across the West. By the end of the decade, the Great Western main line will set the standard for 21st century rail travel in Britain and provide the capacity we need to cater for the continued increase in the popularity of rail travel."

The main schemes benefiting the West are:

Modernising signalling

- Network Rail is resignalling the Great Western main line ahead of electrification, modernising equipment which dates back to the 1960s. This work will be carried out in stages to minimise disruption. The line between Paddington and Hayes has already been resignalled and the railway in the Didcot area was resignalled in December 2012. By 2015, control of all signalling between London and Bristol will be migrated to the Thames Valley signalling centre in Didcot.

- This state-of-the-art facility will eventually control all signalling in the Western route and contribute to a £250m annual saving across the railway in signalling costs . The four-year scheme, once completed, will help to boost the performance. Around 25,000 minutes of delays on average each year on the Great Western main line are potentially caused by problems with ageing signalling equipment.

Bristol Temple Meads

- The historic station will see £100m investment to build two new platforms, open a new entrance and renovate the existing entrance. This fits in to the wider scheme to develop the area.

Filton Bank

- Filton Bank will be four-tracked, up from the current two- or three-track layout. This will restore the separation between fast and stopping services, increasing capacity on the line, and allowing half-hourly services along the Severn Beach Line. The line will also be electrified as part of the Great Western Main Line electrification scheme.

Swindon - Kemble

- Work is just starting to redouble this busy commuter line, increasing capacity and reducing delays.

Electrification and new trains

- By December 2016, Network Rail plans to electrify the railway from Maidenhead to Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea, Newbury and Oxford . Electrification of the Great Western main line will pave the way for electric trains which have more seats than the current diesel trains of the same length and are able to accelerate and brake more quickly, speeding up journey times.

- The new trains will be quicker, cleaner, quieter, smoother and more reliable than diesels trains. They are cheaper to operate, require less maintenance and have lower energy costs and carbon emissions than diesel trains. They are also lighter and do less damage to the track, helping to deliver a more reliable railway and reducing the need for track maintenance.

- Network Rail is responsible for electrification through some of the most sensitive parts of the line, including the centre of Bath, and is working closely with local authorities and heritage agencies.


- Passengers across the West and beyond will feel the full benefits of the £934m redevelopment of the railway in Reading in 2015 when the project is complete. This will relieve the biggest bottleneck on the Great Western main line.

- There will be five new platforms at Reading and a new viaduct to take fast trains over those on slower lines - this means faster, more reliable journeys for passengers . The station will also have two new entrances providing better pedestrian links across the town, as well as lifts and escalators to all platforms and a wider footbridge


- Crossrail services will replace current Thames Valley inner suburban services (between Paddington to Maidenhead) to deliver a high-frequency service from Maidenhead through new rail tunnels below central London, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood.

- The service will offer the ability to travel from Cardiff to the City and Canary Wharf in two hours . The new Crossrail services will be electrified, meaning trains will be quicker, cleaner, quieter, smoother and more reliable than diesels trains . The new underground Crossrail station at Paddington will free up surface platforms, providing opportunities for additional services from key commuter hubs to Paddington on the Great Western main line during the busiest times of day

- Other improvements which are also set to be delivered between 2014-2019 include a new link from the Great Western main line to Heathrow terminal 5. Potential line speed improvements on the Great Western main line between London and Bristol Parkway, and from Reading to Basingstoke, are also being examined.

Notes to editors

Next steps
The strategic business plan is a response to the government's announcement in the summer of 2012 outlining what they require the railway to deliver in 2014-2019.

The next major steps in the process are:

June 2013: ORR publishes its draft determination on Network Rail's Strategic business plan and how much it thinks Network Rail needs to deliver what's required in CP5 October 2013: ORR publishes its final determination March 2014: Network Rail's CP5 delivery plan published

1 April 2014: Control period 5 starts

Investing in infrastructure
Network Rail's five-year strategic business plan, covering the period from 2014 to 2019 (known as control period five, or CP5), maps out a programme of projects designed to maintain and improve an ageing infrastructure and schemes to reduce the cost of running the rail network. By 2019, the plan will deliver a railway that:

* Moves 225m more passengers per year and carries 355,000 more trains - the highest numbers ever seen on Britain's railways
* Provides 20% extra morning peak seats into central London and 32% into large regional cities in England and Wales
* Delivers a step change in connectivity between regional centres e.g. 700 more trains a day linking key northern cities and a ten minute reduction in journey time between Manchester and Leeds
* Carries 30% more freight than today
* Maintains record levels of performance, with expected PPM (public performance measure) of 92.5% by the end of CP5
* Is future-proofing critical infrastructure such as 30,000 bridges, embankments and tunnels against the impact of changing weather patterns, including flooding
* Has cut CO2 emissions per passenger by 37% - the equivalent of one million lorries off of our congested roads - and has hundreds of miles more electrified railway
* Is the safest in Europe, reducing risk at level crossings by 8% in CP5
* Continues to modernise antiquated signalling equipment as part of a plan to move away from over 800 signal boxes to 14 major operations centres, allowing us to run more trains closer together, safely and reliably
* Is more efficient, reducing the cost of running Britain's railways by a further 18% and cutting annual public subsidy to between £2.6bn and £2.9bn in 2019 - down from £4.5bn in 2009 and £7bn in 2004


- Nationally, one million more trains run every year than ten years ago, more passengers arrive on time than ever before and Network Rail's safety record is one of the best in Europe

- Nationally, today we carry almost 50% more passengers than 10 years ago

2002/03: 976m

2011/12: 1.46bn

Railhub Archive ::: 2013-01-08 NET-005


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