The Anonymous Widower

Electrification Delays On The Great Western Railway Must Be Serious

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled GWR and DfT discuss ‘revised plan’ after electrification delays and it talks about what is to be done to get a decent passenger service running on the Great Western Railway, despite all of the delays to the electrification program.

If you want to know more of the problem this article on the BBC web site from July 2015 is an excellent summary.

  • The under-performance of the High Output Plant System, a factory train made up of 23 vehicles, has, according to rail observers, made a big contribution to Network Rail falling at least a year behind schedule.
  • The whole electrification project for the Great Western line was really based on the High Output train because of the amount of work it could do so much more quickly,
  • Engineering insiders told the BBC that a newly designed wiring system  did not match the specification of the holes the Hops train was designed to dig and that a new design of pile-tubes hammered into the ground to house the thousands of electrification masts – went in too deep after ground surveys were missed.
  • Even where the Hops train has managed to dig holes, it has damaged existing signalling cables.
  • Network Rail is short on experienced engineers and experienced operators – people who know how to run a railway.
  • It was decided by the Department for Transport that the new trains will be 26m long per vehicle and our railways are built for 23m long,

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a badly-designed and executed project in my long years on the dark fringes of project management.

So now it is sucking engineers and resources out of every other electrification project in the UK!

For instance, on my local electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, nothing much seems to have happened for the last few weeks.

I had to have a quiet chuckle, when I read this last paragraph in the Rail Magazine article.

GWR has tested short-formation High Speed Trains, and these could potentially be used on longer-distance services currently operated by multiple units, such as Cardiff-Portsmouth and Exeter-Penzance. They could also be used on some of the longer branch lines in the South West, such as Par-Newquay and Exeter-Barnstaple, although neither GWR nor the DfT would confirm this. A potential additional order for bi-mode AT300 hybrid trains could also be under consideration.

Terry Miller’s wonderful stop-gap design of the 1970s; the High Speed Train, is coming to the rescue again.

But then very serious problems, need the most serious of solutions!

I’m not running Network Rail and I’m not the Transport Minister, but in my view, it is now time to think extremely radically.

We have been lucky with our train purchases and development.

  • Class 800 and Class 801 are identical except for the diesel engines.
  • Class 700 trains are being delivered to release Thameslink’s Class 387 and Class 319 trains.
  • There are fifty or so Class 387 trains, that could be converted into IPEMUs, which would have a sixty mile range on batteries.
  • Bombardier could probably build a few more Class 387 trains, alongside the Aventras.

I think that many places will get different and probably better and bigger trains, but not everyone will get the expected new electric trains.

February 29, 2016 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Source: Electrification Delays On The Great Western Railway Must Be Serious […]

    Pingback by Electrification Delays On The Great Western Railway Must Be Serious – Colecty.com | March 1, 2016 | Reply


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