Passengers travelling through South Wales and the South West over the August bank holiday are being advised to check before they travel as Network Rail carries out essential work to install part of a new signalling system for the Bristol area.
The new system is an important part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers. It replaces equipment installed in the 1960s and 70s with the latest technology, paving the way for smoother journeys and fewer delays for passengers.
This essential re-signalling work will also prepare the Great Western Main Line for the arrival of electrification and the new fleet of longer, faster, quieter and greener electric trains. This is in addition to paving the way for the doubling of the tracks, from two to four along the Filton bank, helping to improve capacity on this part of the rail network and meet the demand of increasing numbers of passengers.
Andy Haynes, Network Rail’s project director for the West of England, said: “This project forms part of our programme to re-signal the whole of the Great Western route, providing passengers with greater reliability, fewer delays and smoother journeys.
“Our work to increase reliability and capacity on the network, together with the ability of the new electric trains to reduce journey times and accommodate more passengers, will also help to drive economic growth across South Wales, the west and south west, and the Thames Valley.”
The upgrade work taking place over the bank holiday weekend of 27 to 29 August is the part of the the Bristol Area Signalling Renewal project, which has already seen the installation of more than 250km of new signalling and power cables. This latest phase of the work will involve around 350 members of the orange army working along 50 miles of railway line. Once complete, control of the signalling system in this area will move to the state-of-the-art Thames Valley signalling centre in Didcot.
This extensive work will require a temporary closure of the lines in both directions between Bristol Parkway and Swindon, Newport, Bristol Temple Meads, Gloucester and Severn Beach. During this temporary closure, trains will be diverted and in some cases replacement bus services will be in operation.
Andy continued: “Replacing and upgrading 40-year-old signalling equipment is complex and for safety reasons must be carried out when trains aren’t running. While we have tried to minimise disruption as much as possible by carrying out the work over a bank holiday, when fewer people use the railway, I would like to thank passengers in advance for their patience and understanding while we complete this essential upgrade that will lead to the improvements we know they want to see.”