The project will include resignalling with the European Rail Traffic
Management System (ERTMS), the first application of this technology on
a British mainline.
The electrification of the GWML is being timed to coincide with the
introduction of Britain's new-generation intercity passenger train, the
Super Express Train (SET), which will be supplied by the Agility Trains
consortium. The 200km/h SETs will be built by Hitachi in electric,
diesel, and bi-mode versions, and a fleet of 70 pre-series vehicles
will be delivered in 2012, with the first production trains entering
service in 2015. The Great Western SET fleet will include a number of
bi-mode trains, which will be used for services from London to
destinations away from the electrified network, such as Carmarthen,
Cheltenham, Worcester, and Penzance.
Suburban services from London
to Reading, Newbury, and Oxford will be operated by emus from the end
of 2016, when the delivery of new trains for the Thameslink network
will allow class 319 four-car trains to be cascaded to the GWML. DfT
says the class 319s will be modernised, with the installation of air-conditioning, before taking up their new role.
electrification also coincides with the £425 million remodelling of the
station at Reading, a major junction where Cross Country services from
the south coast to the English Midlands intersect with Great Western
Services from London to the south west and Wales.
Another key
electrification project was announced today for the 51km Manchester
Victoria - Newton le Willows - Liverpool line, which will be
electrified at a cost of £100 million by 2013. This line currently has
a maximum speed of 120km/h, which will be raised to 145km/h when the
project is completed, cutting journey times from 44 minutes to 30
The electrification of this line will allow the
introduction of a new service between Manchester and Scotland via the
West Coast Main Line, using four-car emus, replacing a TransPennine dmu
service which runs 85% of its journey under the wires. Refurbished class 319s will operate regional services between Liverpool and
Manchester, allowing the dmus currently used on these services to boost
capacity on other TransPennine routes. The electrification of this line
is also a major step towards electrifying the key Newcastle - Leeds -
Manchester - Liverpool TransPennine route, which has witnessed a surge
in passenger numbers in recent years.
The last major
electrification project in Britain was the 632km East Coast Main Line
from London to Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh, which was approved in
1985 and completed in 1990. Currently only 33% of Britain's railway
network is electrified.
The Department for Transport says the
government will consider the case for further electrification schemes
in the coming months, including the Midland Mainline from London to
Nottingham and Sheffield, and Manchester - Preston.