IN FOCUS: GREAT WESTERN
DECEMBER’S SCHEDULE IMPROVEMENTS MARK THE CULMINATION OF THE MODERNISATION PROGRAMME, AS PHILIP SHERRATT REPORTS
The infrastructure upgrades on the Western have been challenging. Network Rail’s electrification programme, over budget, late and cut back in scope, hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Great Western Railway had the unenviable task of continuing to provide a passenger service while copious line closures took place to allow the work to be completed. Thankfully, the end is now in sight. Network Rail intends to finish the last few miles of electrification into Cardiff Central in January 2020; pending resolution of problems with the overhead conductor rail in the Severn Tunnel, the route from London to Cardiff will be fully electrified. With the flexibility of bi-modes, GWR can at last introduce its long-planned timetable enhancements at the end of this year, taking advantage of its Hitachi Intercity Express Train (IET) fleet and improving services across its network.