18 May 2010

A haircut for the Great Western?

Twyford station

Another project that might benefit from a haircut is the package of schemes planned for the Great Western main line. These include Crossrail and its extension to Reading, reconstruction of the station and junction at Reading with a grade-separation of the Newbury and Bristol lines, and electrification to Newbury, Oxford, Bristol and Swansea.

The projects themselves are obviously worthwhile, but having them all going on at once will be disruptive. It all sounds too much. How will reliable services be maintained?

There are alternative routes, up to a point. There is the South-Western main line through Salisbury and Exeter, though capacity is limited. The Chiltern Railways proposal will eventually provide a good connection from Oxford to London via Bicester and High Wycombe.

This is a case where there many be a need for better phasing, which would also have the advantage of spreading out the cost over a longer period.

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