Green light for new trains and rail electrification

Posted: 1 March 2011 | | 1 comment

Scotland, Wales, northern and south west England are to get a fleet of new trains and more reliable rail links to London…

Scotland, Wales, northern and south west England are to get a fleet of new trains and more reliable rail links to London...

Scotland, Wales, northern and south west England are to get a fleet of new trains and more reliable rail links to London, creating thousands of jobs, boosting the economy and improving services for passengers, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced today. He gave the go-ahead for the £4.5bn Intercity Express Programme (IEP) and the £704m plans to electrify the Great Western Main Line (GWML) between Cardiff, Bristol and Didcot.

The Government announced today it has decided to resume the IEP procurement and proceed with the Agility Trains (Hitachi and John Laing) consortium’s plans for replacement for the nation’s fleet of ageing intercity high speed trains. This will mean 500 new carriages which will provide 11,000 more peak-time seats for passengers, every day on the GWML and ECML

Hitachi had previously announced its intention to build a new train factory in County Durham to build the new order, creating more than 500 new jobs and securing thousands of additional jobs in sub-supplier industries in north east England, giving a further boost to Britain’s manufacturing industry. This factory is expected to be operational by 2013.

The announcement to electrify the sections between Cardiff, Bristol and Didcot builds on November’s announcement of electrification between London Paddington, Didcot, Newbury and Oxford, and will give Wales its very first main line electrified railway, cutting 17 minutes from Cardiff to London journeys and 22 minutes from Bristol to London journeys. Electric trains are not only quicker, but quieter, smoother and more reliable than diesels. They are also cleaner – producing no emissions at their point of use.

Philip Hammond said:

“This is good news for jobs, passengers and the economy. Our decision to buy a new fleet of trains and electrify new lines will allow rail passengers along the Great Western and East Coast corridors to benefit from massive improvements to journey times, more seats and more reliable services.

“Alongside our plans for High Speed Rail, it completes a picture of massive upgrades to our intercity rail corridors over the coming years.

“Whilst this is, of course, subject to the Government continuing to be satisfied that the proposal offers value for money as the commercial negotiations are concluded and that the final arrangements are compliant with the United Kingdom’s EU obligations, I expect that the first of the new trains will be in service by 2016.”

“Extending electrification westwards to Bristol and Cardiff will also bring all the benefits of electric trains – faster acceleration, greater comfort and cleaner, greener travel – to rail passengers in Wales and the south west.

“We have also established that a strong high-level case may exist for electrifying some of the Valley lines north of Cardiff. My Department will now work with the Welsh Assembly Government to develop a business case for the electrification of the Cardiff Valley lines.”

The £4.5bn programme will see the building of a combination of around 100 electric trains and bi-mode – diesel and electric – intercity trains which will run to Great Western Main Line stations including Oxford, Swindon, Reading, Cardiff, Swansea, Bath and Bristol and to East Coast Main Line stations such as Peterborough, York, Doncaster, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness.

The train operating companies will contribute to the design and specification of the new fleet of IEP trains in greater detail than they had before. As soon as the trains become operational passengers will see improvements to reliability and comfort.

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