Network Rail has announced a £5 billion investment programme for the Great Western rail route, including electrification, resignalling and new trains The ten-year plan has been hailed by the rail infrastructure operator as “the largest revamp of the Great Western railway since it was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel 175 years ago”, and will transform the route into “the most advanced intercity railway in Britain”. Network Rail said that the works “will improve journeys and provide the extra capacity needed to cater for a predicted 51 per cent increase in passengers travelling on the route over the next 30 years”. The programme includes:
- the upgrade of signalling systems to make them compatible with electrification technology and ready for an in-cab signalling system known as ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System)
- the electrification of lines between London and Bristol, Oxford and Banbury, which Network Rail says will make the railway “greener and more efficient”, as well as paving the way for extra capacity thanks to the forthcoming Intercity Express Programme fleet of trains.