By Phil Marsh

Be warned - the railway between Bristol and Bath and Manchester Victoria and Salford stations will be closed for 10 days for electrification work

Published: 13th March 2016

Easter Bunny to dig up the Great West Main Line this Easter!

The Network Rail electrification of the Great Western Main Line (GWML) between Paddington, Bristol and Cardiff may be causing controversy but the work is progressing. Sections of the line are being closed for a few weeks at a time to allow the necessary work to be undertaken more efficiently in both terms of time and cost as opposed to working overnight or just on Sundays.

The next section of the route to be closed is between Bath and Bristol which will be closed for nine days from Saturday April 2 to Sunday April 10 inclusive. This does not mean that the cities will not be served by trains as services will be re-routed around the closure.

The track has to be lowered to allow for higher clearances for overhead wires carrying 25,000 volts to power the new Hitachi built Intercity Express Trains.

What’s the revised train service?

Great Western Railway (GWR) the train operator formerly known as First Great Western, will be operating one train an hour between Bath and Paddington calling at Chippenham, Swindon, Didcot and Reading. Bristol Temple Meads will also be served by an hourly train calling at Filton, during peak times and be diverted to Swindon and then make the usual calls to Paddington.

But if you are travelling between Bath and Bristol Temple Meads it will mean taking a rail replacement bus which will run every 15 minutes non-stop plus another every 30 minutes calling at Oldfield Park and Keynsham. These will be supplemented by other services between Keynsham and Bristol every 30 mins and a couple of services between Castle Cary and Bristol in the morning and evening peak hours.

Trains between Weymouth and Bristol Temple Meads services will not run between Bristol and Bath and the Portsmouth Harbour to Cardiff services which run via Bath and Bristol will be diverted and only run as far as Swindon. From there, onwards connections to Bristol Parkway, Newport and Cardiff will be operating.

A shuttle service will operate between Bristol Temple Meads and Cardiff Central every 30 minutes while the train service between Westbury and Bath will operate with increased frequency during peak periods. The GWR Brighton trains will not operate during this 10 day period.

A GWR spokesperson said:

"We have worked closely with Bath and North East Somerset Council, Wiltshire Council and GWR to minimise disruption while this work takes place.

“The improvements being made will bring Brunel’s railway into the 21st century, paving the way for the new electric trains. These trains will provide passengers with more seats and faster journeys, while significantly reducing noise and pollution for those who live close to the railway line.

"In addition, the ability to reduce journey times while increasing capacity will benefit businesses, helping to drive economic growth across the South West.”

Don’t forget the Easter Bunny will be digging up the GWML this Easter!

The ongoing Crossrail and Network Rail integration works will be underway this Easter in the Thames Valley between Reading and Paddington bringing alterations to the timetable.

From Good Friday and Easter Tuesday inclusive, there will be no trains between West Ealing and Greenford, Maidenhead to Marlow while trains will not be calling at Acton Main Line, West Ealing, Hanwell, Burnham, or Taplow. Passengers should use London Underground or London buses or the rail replacement buses between Slough, Burnham, Taplow and Maidenhead.

Other Easter Works

Manchester Victoria and Salford Central stations will close between Thursday 24 March to Monday 4 April to remodel the railway but the other Manchester stations will be open.

The main line from Liverpool Street will be subject to overhead line renewal and Crossrail work affecting trains and Thameslink work will affect London Bridge area trains. Brighton Main Line major renewals at Battersea will bring a reduced service on the route and no Southern services from London Victoria.

The Chatham Main Line will be partially closed due to East Kent resignalling.

On the Kings Cross main line, works will close the line on Easter Saturday and Sunday south of Peterborough.

West Coast Main Line main line services will be diverted via Stoke as Stafford area improvements continue but local services will see significant changes.

They said:

Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail said:

I’m acutely conscious that many people want to use the railway during the Easter holidays, but with fewer people travelling by train over this four-day weekend, it is a good time to undertake these massive improvement projects.

The vast majority of services will be unaffected by this programme, with over 95 per cent of the network open as normal.

Passengers have shown themselves to be incredibly understanding of planned improvement work and I’d like to thank them in advance for their support and understanding as we deliver the big improvements that the travelling public want to see.

The number of people travelling by rail continues to grow to record levels. Our work this Easter forms a key part of our Railway Upgrade Plan to meet surging demand and improve and expand our congested railway network.

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