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Disruption to rail service begins this weekend

New trains promised as Newbury goes electric but 'significant programme of upgrade works' necessary

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886628

'Rail blockade' to hit West Berkshire next week

GREAT Western Railway (GWR) has warned of disruption to rail services beginning this weekend.

From Saturday, June 2, and into next week Network Rail will continue the electrification of the railway between Reading and Newbury.

Network Rail are electrifying the route between Reading and Newbury, which will allow GWR to be able to run new Electrostar trains direct between Newbury and station stops to the capital, as well as extend the operation of new, bi-mode Intercity Express Trains (IET) on electric power beyond Reading to Newbury, before continuing to Wilshire, Devon and Cornwall on diesel power.

To achieve this, Network Rail need to close the railway line on selected dates throughout the year, and the next phase runs from 2pm on Saturday through to and including Thursday, June 7.

Buses will replace trains from stations between Pewsey and Theale on weekdays, extending to Reading during the weekend. Train services will still operate from Theale to Reading on the weekdays.

Season ticket holders with tickets valid for one month or longer from Pewsey, Bedwyn, Hungerford, Kintbury, or Newbury may use South Western Railway services from Salisbury, Grateley, Andover, Whitchurch, Basingstoke or Overton for travel towards Reading and London Paddington/Waterloo.

The last direct train from London Paddington to Newbury on Saturday will depart at 12.33pm, and at 1.10pm from Reading. Those leaving Newbury for London Paddington direct will be able to catch the 1.45pm, or 1.21pm for the stopping service.

Alterations for car park season ticket holders have also been made and more information can be found here.

Long distance services from London Paddington to Devon and Cornwall will continue to operate but will be diverted, adding up to 50 minutes to journey times. Some train departure times will also be changed, and passengers are advised to check beforehand.

As well as commissioning the overhead electric lines, Network Rail will complete track renewal and ballast work, taking advantage of the line closure to conduct maintenance works.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “With the completion of electrification work we will be able to run brand new electric, and bi-mode Intercity Express Trains, to Newbury – supporting the local economy with more train seats, more comfortable and more frequent journeys.

“In order to achieve this however, Network Rail will need to undertake a significant programme of upgrade works.

“We have worked hard to ensure we have produced a train and bus service that supports the local economy while also allowing Network Rail the vital access it needs to the railway to electrify the route.”

With each IET offering up to 24 per cent more seats than the High Speed Train it replaces, this will mean over 4,500 extra seats every day between Newbury and London Paddington from early 2019, as part of wider timetable improvements.

Network Rail Western Route Managing Director Mark Langman said: “This will boost local communities and provide a better service for passengers travelling in Berkshire, across the Thames Valley and west London.

“We are working very hard with GWR to minimise disruption to passengers while we deliver electrification to Newbury. Owing to the scale of the work we will be doing this over periods of several days.

“I thank the communities in Newbury and across Berkshire for their patience in advance of the upgrade.”

A series of dates have been announced for Network Rail to complete the works:

Monday 9 to Thursday July 12
Monday July16 to Sunday August 5
Tuesday August 28 to Thursday August 30
Monday October 8 to Thursday October 11
Monday November 19 to Thursday November 22

New, and more modern trains have seen GWR deliver 10 per cent more train seats at the busiest time of the morning into and out of London Paddington, compared to January 2017.

With Network Rail’s work to electrify the route between Reading and Newbury, these new electric trains will also subsequently replace older diesel stock operating between Newbury and London Paddington; while new Class 802 Hitachi Intercity Express Trains will operate direct services to Bedwyn and Frome.

For further travel advice and information on the work visit www.GWR.com/Newbury2018 

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Article comments

  • Ihavenonickname

    04/06/2018 - 07:07

    Yes indeed, we bought the wrong trains! Hydrogen powered fuel cell electric trains now manufactured in France/Germany deliver zero emissions without the need for eyesore and expensive overhead wires! Indeed, we could have developed and built this technology for ourselves if our government had properly supported our rail engineering industry. Such missed opportunities, they were too caught up with their 'Austerity'!

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