OREANDA-NEWS. Hundreds of thousands of passengers and businesses are set to benefit from Network Rail’s multi-million pound improvements to the rail network in the south west and Thames Valley this May.

Over the first May bank holiday, the ‘orange army’ will be delivering a ?14.5m slice of the company’s ?40bn Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers and businesses on the Western route. The work is extensive and includes:

  • Installing a new bridge at Broad Town Road in Royal Wootton Bassett in preparation for electrification and the arrival of a new fleet of longer, faster, quieter and greener electric trains.
  • Installing the foundations for the overhead electrification equipment that is essential to power the new electric trains to run underneath. This process is known as ‘piling’ and will take place at various locations in the south west and Thames Valley.
  • Installing the overhead electrification equipment in the Thames Valley to power the electric trains.
  • Station and track improvements at Southall and Hayes & Harlington stations as part of the Crossrail project. This new railway link will be known as the Elizabeth line and will better connect the south east with London.
  • Installing a new set of points on the approach to Paddington station to provide greater reliability for passengers.

This programme of improvement work will begin late on Friday, 29 April, once the last train has run, and has been timed to take advantage of a relatively quieter time of the year when, on average, fewer people use the railway – enabling Network Rail and train operators to minimise disruption as much as possible.

As the majority of the upgrades can only take place when trains aren’t running, services in the south west and Thames Valley will be affected which is why a comprehensive advertising campaign is under way to make sure passengers are able to make informed decisions about their travel over the May bank holiday.

Mark Langman, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, said: “This May, our army of rail workers will be working round the clock to deliver our Railway Upgrade Plan, providing better, more reliable journeys for passengers and businesses across the west, south west and Thames Valley.

“I’m acutely conscious that many people want to use the railway during the bank holiday but with fewer people travelling by train over this period it is a good time to undertake these massive improvement projects.

“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 May forms a key part of our Railway Upgrade Plan to meet surging demand and improve and expand our congested railway network.”

About Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail’s £40bn spending plan for Britain’s railways for the five year period up to 31 March 2019. The plan is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to tremendous growth the railways have seen – a doubling of passengers in the past twenty years. The plan will deliver a bigger, better railway with more trains, longer trains, faster trains with more infrastructure, more reliable infrastructure and better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

Work on the Western route over the first May bank holiday in numbers:

  • 1,523 concrete sleepers will be installed
  • 13,908 tons of ballast (the stones under the track) will be laid
  • 28 engineering trains will be used to deliver the work

Passengers travelling through the south west and Thames Valley over the May bank holiday are advised to check their journeys at National Rail Enquiries or Great Western Railway.

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 1.6bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We're investing ?40bn in the railway by 2019 through our Railway Upgrade Plan to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.