Great Western Main Line to Receive Capacity Upgrade

Published 18th May 2012

£350 Million to be spent on new and improved infrastructure

LONDON - Network Rail will be spending around £350 Million on infrastructure improvements on the Great Western Main Line, between London and Bristol and London and Cardiff

The most important of these changes is the preparation and groundwork of a new regional control centre at Didcot. This centre would control all signalling along these routes.

It is anticipated that this work will improve reliability and punctuality, driving delay minutes as a result of non-robust signalling and infrastructure. The signalling along the route has become greatly aged, and is in dire need of upgrade.

As the route between London and Reading is anticipated to gain overhead electrification, the vast number of signals mounted on gantries in this area will be taken down and placed on regular posts.

Southern links strengthened

In the Reading area, the Reading area upgrade is already well underway, and is financed outside of this package. This includes the provision of four new platforms and the re-instatement of the southern route grade separated junction to the east of the station to create easier access to and from the Southern electrified network.

The new platforms serving Waterloo services were brought into service earlier this year and the connectional line doubled to ease congestion.

New flyover and signalling

A new flyover will be constructed across the existing FGW train depot to the west of the station along with a new train depot on the north side of the GWML.

The extra spending will however provide various signalling improvements between Reading and Newbury, allowing for more capacity. This is in addition to major works carried out a decade ago at Didcot East Junction and at Reading to enable the intensive Cross Country train service to operate.

Improvements off the main line

In the Oxford area, slow speed crossovers will be dealt with to improve punctuality and reduce the amount of time that a conflicting movement will take. It is likely that a new platform will be built to further ease capacity constraints.

In 2014, more than £40 Million will be spent on the doubling of track between Swindon and Kemble, as well as signalling and infrastructure improvements towards Chippenham.

More tracks at Bristol?

The greatest spend will be in the vicinity of Bath Spa, Bristol Temple Meads, Filton Abbey Wood and Parson Street. This will include track remodelling around Temple Meads station to allow for more local services to Avonmouth, Weston Super Mare, Bristol Parkway and Newport. The Bristol area is currently in the grip of a surge in passenger numbers on local journeys.

Tracks could be reinstated in the Filton area making the line a four track route rather than the current 2-track link out of Bristol Temple Meads to Bristol Parkway and South Wales.

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