Network Rail electrification gathers pace

Network Rail electrification gathers pace

Plans to electrify major routes including the Great Western to Cardiff are gathering pace as Network Rail issues a tender for machinery and plant to install overhead power lines quickly and efficiently.

The invitation to tender follows last month’s announcement by the transport secretary to give Network Rail the go ahead to electrify the Great Western to Cardiff. The announcement comes on top of other confirmed schemes to electrify routes from Paddington to Oxford and Newbury, as well as schemes in the North West between Liverpool, Manchester and Blackpool.

Electric trains offer passengers many benefits, including quicker, quieter, and smoother journeys, as well as being greener than diesel equivalents. Electric trains are also cheaper to procure compared to diesel, and cost less to maintain.

Simon Kirby, Network Rail’s director, infrastructure projects, said: “Passengers will soon be enjoying the benefits of more modern electric trains on our network. Our plans to install overhead power lines on the Great Western and in the North West are at an advanced stage and this tender marks our commitment to deliver these schemes quickly, efficiently and at a cost that is affordable.”

Network Rail is planning to complete electrification on the Great Western to Oxford, Newbury and Bristol by the end of 2016, with the stretch to Cardiff being completed by the end of 2017. Schemes between Liverpool and Manchester should be completed by 2014 and a further scheme to Blackpool by 2016.


The multi-million pound tender will be let under Network Rail’s new contracting strategy, enabling a more market-led approach to the project’s delivery. The chosen delivery partner will be fully integrated into Network Rail’s delivery team to deliver the options and the best solution, creating better value throughout the development, design and delivery process.

The specifications set out by Network Rail in the tender include machinery that adopts the use of construction techniques which minimise disruption and enable Network Rail to carry out most of the work within overnight eight-hour windows.