Electrification a step closer after successful railway upgrade in Wiltshire

Electrification on the Great Western mainline has moved a step closer after Network Rail successfully upgraded the railway in Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett over the weekend as part of their Railway Upgrade Plan.

Network Rail’s Orange Army has been working in the Wiltshire towns over the weekend of June 10 and 11 so the track could be lowered beneath Hunts Mill Bridge in Royal Wootton Bassett and Roman Road Bridge in Swindon. This was to create space for the overhead line equipment necessary for electrification.

As well as lowering the track, the parapets (or sides) of both bridges were made higher to provide a safe distance between those using the bridge and the high-voltage electricity cables.

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These crucial works pave the way for the arrival of a fleet of new, longer Intercity Express Trains later this year, bringing more seats per train and adding greater comfort for passengers. These trains will then run on electric through Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett from December 2018.

Garry Fernand, Network Rail project manager, said: “The improvements carried out in Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan are extensive but essential in order to bring our railway into the 21st century and improve passengers’ experience.

“We’d like to thank residents and motorists for their patience and understanding during this upgrade, which will pave the way for electrification and the benefits this will bring.”