UK rail operator Network rail has announced a ten-year plan to upgrade the Great Western Main Line to meet an expected 31% rise in rail demand by 2019.

The plan, a draft version of the Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy, envisions a transformation of the region’s rail network with more seats, better connectivity and shorter journey times to key growth areas.

The plan includes electrification of the Paddington-Bristol/Swansea and Paddington-Oxford/Newbury lines, work on the Intercity Express Programme, upgrading railways in Devon and Cornwall, the Reading railway remodelling and the billion pound Crossrail project.

The plan also considers the draft Regional Spatial Strategy for economic and population growth, which has identified Gloucester, Swindon, Bristol, Taunton, Exeter and Plymouth as main growth centres.

The operator has launched a consultation on the strategy which will last until 27 November, after which the final document will be published in early 2010 and put forward to the Department for Transport to help in funding from 2014 to 2019.

The operator says if funds are available, a few of the plans could be delivered from 2014 onwards.