Thu, 19 Apr 2018
A RAIL ‘blockade’ will hit West Berkshire again from Monday morning to Thursday night as work to upgrade the line continues.
Network Rail is electrifying the route between Reading and Newbury, which will allow Great Western Railways to run new Electrostar trains direct between Newbury and station stops to London.
The extension of new, bi-mode Intercity Express Trains (IET) on electric power beyond Reading to Newbury, before continuing to Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall on diesel power, is also included.
In order to do this, however, commuters will have to suffer “short-term pain for long-term gain” and buses will replace train services between Pewsey and Theale next week.
Trains will still operate from Theale to Reading.
Network Rail said that four-day closures were required as alternatives would have been more disruptive and taken longer, with the company not being able to ensure that the work would be completed on time.
The overhead lines powering the new trains carry 25,000 volts and were deemed as a safer option than installing an electrified third rail.
Network Rail is working to an end-of-summer construction timeline, with testing of the equipment set to last until the end of the year.
The next closure is scheduled for Monday, May 14, to Thursday, May 17.
Further closures are planned for Monday, June 4 to 7; July 9-12; July 16 to August 5; August 28-30; October 8-11; and November 19-22.
GWR said that 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.
Alterations for car park season ticket holders have also been made.
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.
GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: “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.”
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.”
More than 4,500 extra seats will become available every day between Newbury and London Paddington from early 2019 through the new IETs.
For further travel advice and information visit www.GWR.com/Newbury2018