Rising costs and project delays mean that Great Western electrification now offers a lower benefit-cost ratio than that for the Midland Main Line.
Network Rail has run out of money to complete the Great Western electrification project with the estimated cost rising to £5.6 billion, and has admitted that wiring will not now reach central Bristol until March 2024.
However, the promise remains that electric working between Paddington and Cardiff via Bristol Parkway will be completed by December 2018 – which is itself 18 months after the original planned date. Conversion of the Berks and Hants route between Reading and Newbury will also be completed by this date.
Electrification of the Crossrail route to Maidenhead remains due for completion by June 2017, but the Thames Valley branch lines to Henley and Windsor will remain the preserve of diesel powered units for the foreseeable future.
Despite a lot of work being undertaken on the route between Swindon and Bristol Temple Meads, no firm timescale is now available for completion other than that wires will reach Chippenham by April 2020 – a delay of nearly three years. Continuation to Bath, Bristol Temple Meads and the link from there to Bristol Parkway have all been pushed back to 2024, as has the section from Cardiff to Swansea. The section from Didcot to Oxford has also been deferred, with no set date for completion.
Read more in January’s issue of Rail Express