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First electric wires for Crossrail programme switched on in Thames Valley

By Nick Mann

  • 12 miles of railway between Maidenhead and Heathrow junction being electrified by Network Rail as part of the Crossrail project
  • Work to install overhead line equipment nearing completion - 80% of overhead wires are now installed and first section turned on
  • Electrification paves the way for new Great Western Railway (GWR) trains in 2017 and Elizabeth line services in 2019

Thames Valley rail passengers can look forward to better journeys and the introduction of new GWR trains in 2017 following the achievement of the latest milestone in the electrification of the railway between Heathrow junction and Maidenhead by Network Rail as part of the Crossrail programme.

After more than a year of work, the electricity has now been turned on along the first section. The remaining section will be turned on next year allowing new electric GWR trains to run between Maidenhead and London Paddington from summer 2017.

The work is part of the Crossrail programme and Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers and businesses.

To bring passengers quieter, greener and more efficient journeys, Network Rail has carried out this major infrastructure investment programme, allowing the introduction of the Elizabeth line trains and GWR’s electric trains to the Thames Valley.

Electrification to power the new trains requires the installation of overhead line equipment alongside and above the existing track. It consists of overhead wires running between supporting steel posts to distribute electricity. The steel posts are mounted on heavy duty foundations.

An 800-strong workforce has successfully installed over 1,400 piled foundations and 834 overhead line structures. More than three quarters of the wiring programme, which sees 150km of wires strung between the new equipment, has now been completed.

From summer 2017, GWR will be able to extend its electric train services to Maidenhead, which currently stop at Hayes & Harlington. When the Elizabeth line opens fully in December 2019, passengers in the Thames Valley will be able to travel on new trains right through central London without having to change at Paddington.  

Matthew Steele, Network Rail Project Director, said: “This is a key milestone towards the introduction of brand new, cleaner, quieter electric trains on this very busy route into London.  This electrification not only enables the introduction of the Elizabeth line but also supports the introduction of new GWR trains in 2017.

“I would like to thank the local residents and businesses for their patience as we undertake this sometimes noisy construction works”.

Matthew White, Crossrail Surface Director said: “This vital work is paving the way for quicker, greener, quieter and more reliable trains for people in the Thames Valley. Once the Elizabeth line opens fully, passengers will be able to travel right through the capital without having to change at Paddington, making it quicker and easier to get to a range of destinations across London and the South East.”

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For further information contact the Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or email [email protected]

About Crossrail and Network Rail

Network Rail is a key partner in delivering the Crossrail project. It is responsible for the design, development and delivery of the parts of the route that are on the existing rail network. Network Rail’s work, which will integrate the new rail tunnels beneath London with the existing rail network, includes upgrades to track, major civil engineering projects, new overhead electrification equipment and improvements to stations and bridges.

The route will pass through 40 stations from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. The Transport for London (TfL) run railway will be named the Elizabeth line when services through central London open in December 2018. The Crossrail project is being delivered by Crossrail Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL, and is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and TfL.