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Great Western Electrification

This project will update the Great Western rail network, which hasn’t been updated since it was built in the Victorian period so that it can accommodate, cleaner, quieter and more reliable electric trains in the place of diesel carriages.
Great Western Electrification summary

The first big electrification project in the UK for over twenty years, this upgrade to the Great Western railway line will create a more efficient, environmentally friendly and reliable way to travel by train across Britain. The government have invested more than £5 billion to upgrade worn out lines and electrify the Great Western Main Line.

What the project aims to do:

The government are supporting National Rail on updating miles of tracks in the UK so that they can accommodate electric trains, which are much more efficient. In the switch from diesel vehicles to electric trains, the Great Western network, among others, will provide much greener and reliable travel on some of the most used rail routes in the UK.

How the project will do this:

Electrification will take place across the Great Western Line which runs between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington station. The process requires stations to be updated to accommodate the electric trains, alterations to the railway track and signaling modifications too.

The transition to electricity results in shorter journey times because electric traction performs much better than diesel fuel, which could reduce the duration of journeys between stations by up to nineteen minutes. Electric trains ware less on the track which will decrease the amount of maintenance work needed to be carried out on the lines and avoid significant delays.

Great Western Electrification plan


Electricity is much more reliable than its diesel counterparts and requires less work to keep running as efficiently as possible, which will free up maintenance budgets to invest and further develop other rail networks.

These trains will be significantly better for the environment as their carbon emissions are between twenty and thirty five percent lower than diesel trains. The benefit of this is that it will reduce the amount of pollutants in built up cities and towns.

Electrification will benefit the community as the mechanisms are much quieter than diesel trains, which means less disruption for people who live alongside any of these railway lines and for passengers on the train itself.

The project of electrification began in 2010 and is expected to finish around 2017 and as a result needs skilled electricians and engineers to ensure the smooth running of the project. 

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