Rail Minister Claire Perry visited Bath today, Wednesday 26 August 2015, to see how improvement work to electrify the railway and provide better journeys between London and the south west is progressing.
The minister went to Bathampton Junction, the Box Tunnel and Sydney Gardens, where work to lower 10 kilometres of rail tracks through Bath and its surrounding area is nearing completion. The work is part of the biggest project on the route in 40 years, and entails the largest deployment of engineering trains on the Great Western line since the 1970s. It will create space for overhead electric wires to be installed from next year as part of the Great Western electrification programme.
When electrification is complete, it will pave the way for a fleet of state-of-the-art electric trains to be introduced between London Paddington and the south west from 2017. The new trains — part of the government’s £5.7 billion Intercity Express Programme — will provide faster, better journeys and more space for passengers on some of the busiest routes in the country.
Claire Perry said:
Electrifying the Great Western line and making journeys better is our top priority, so it is great to see for myself the progress that is being made.
The railway through Bath is of huge historic importance and features some of Brunel’s original listed structures, and the work that has been done here is truly impressive. This is all part of our long-term economic plan to invest in the railways and build a network fit for the 21st century.
The work in Bath started in July and is due to complete by 1 September 2015. Lowering the track on this part of the route — which passes through 6 conservation areas, 12 listed structures and the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Sydney Gardens — ensures that Bath’s historic architecture is protected.
Between 2014 and 2019, the government is investing £38 billion in maintaining and improving the rail network across the UK.