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February 9, 2016

UK DfT and GWR agree funds for Devon and Cornwall rail study

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) and train operator Great Western Railway (GWR) have entered into an agreement to fund a new study into the upgrading of railway infrastructure between London, Devon and Cornwall.

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) and train operator Great Western Railway (GWR) have entered into an agreement to fund a new study into the upgrading of railway infrastructure between London, Devon and Cornwall.

Rail infrastructure manager Network Rail (NR) will be responsible for carrying out the study, which will be funded and commissioned by GWR.

The DfT noted that the study will examine options for improving existing track, signalling and other infrastructure to improve line speeds in preparation for the delivery of a new fleet of bi-mode Hitachi AT300 trains.

"Our report will help provide information and data to help support the business case for further infrastructure improvements and better connectivity for the region."

The study will feed into a report due to be published later this year by the Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF), a group comprising five local authorities and two Local Enterprise Partnerships, which is looking at options for improving rail links on the route.

UK Rail Minister Claire Perry said: "We are absolutely committed to improving the resilience of the south-west’s rail network, with more than £70m invested in this route so far and routine maintenance continuing to strengthen the line further."

The deal will allow GWR to buy 29 new long-distance trains to serve the south-west from 2018, which will reduce journey times from London to Exeter by up to five minutes, to Plymouth by up to six minutes and to Penzance by up to 14 minutes.

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GWR commercial development director Matthew Golton said: "In the coming years, we will be delivering the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation of the Great Western network, including a brand new fleet of trains for customers travelling between Devon and Cornwall and London to deliver faster, more frequent services into the capital from 2018.

"With such significant investment on its way, we need to take the opportunity now to make sure the right infrastructure can be in place to maximise the journey time, frequency and capacity benefits that the new AT300 fleet will bring.

"Our report will help provide information and data to help support the business case for further infrastructure improvements and better connectivity for the region."

Last December, Hitachi Rail Europe announced that is to manufacture AT300 trains at its facility in Pistoia, Italy, for GWR.

Signed in July, the train supply contract will see Hitachi Rail Italy (HRI) provide and maintain 29 AT300 trains operated between London Paddington and the west country locations of Plymouth and Penzance.

The fleet will comprise of seven nine-car and 22 five-car bi-mode trains, which can be turned into ten-car formations with two five-cars coupled together.

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