Railway Upgrade Plan to deliver better, more reliable railway for passengers and businesses in the south west and Thames Valley this May

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.”