Network Rail completes railway upgrade in Wiltshire


UK-based Network Rail has successfully upgraded the railway in Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett under its Railway Upgrade Plan, which will aid the subsequent electrification of the Great Western mainline (GWML).

Network Rail’s team of engineers, known as the 'Orange Army', was responsible for carrying out the upgrade works over the last weekend in the Wiltshire towns, allowing the track beneath Hunts Mill Bridge in Royal Wootton Bassett and Roman Road Bridge in Swindon to be lowered.

The lowering of the track will provide space for the overhead line equipment to be installed, which is necessary for the completion of the electrification process.

Network Rail project manager Garry Fernand said: “The improvements carried out in Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan are extensive but essential in order to bring our railway into the 21st century and improve passengers' experience.”

The height of both bridges' parapets was also increased to provide a safe distance between those using the bridge and the high-voltage electricity cables.

Network Rail's modifications will allow for the arrival of a fleet of new and longer Intercity Express Trains later this year, which will be equipped with more seats and ensure a greater level of comfort for passengers.

"The improvements carried out in Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon are extensive but essential in order to bring our railway into the 21st century."

The electric trains are expected to begin running through Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett from December 2018.

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's wider investment strategy, which comprises nearly two-thirds of its £40bn spending priorities for the five years leading up to 2019.

Network Rail owns, manages and develops nearly 20,000 miles of track and 40,000 bridges, in addition to numerous level crossings and stations across the UK.

The company currently employs a workforce of roughly 36,000 people.


Image: Network Rail’s Orange Army completes railway upgrade in Wiltshire. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.