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Network Rail electrification plans take step forward

Plans to electrify major rail routes including the Great Western mainline to Cardiff are gathering pace as Network Rail has issued a tender for the machinery and plant to install overhead power lines.

The invitation to tender follows last month’s announcement by the transport secretary Philip Hammond to electrify the Great Western to Cardiff. This followed confirmation of schemes to electrify lines from Paddington to Oxford and Newbury, as well as in the North West between Liverpool, Manchester and Blackpool.

Electric trains will offer passengers quicker journeys, as well as being greener than diesel equivalents.

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. Electrification 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.

It sets out a number of specifications a supplier must satisfy to win the order, including 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.

Suppliers have until late April to submit their proposals, and Network Rail plans to take delivery of the machinery in 2013 when it will undergo a period of testing before entering service to install power lines on the Great Western in 2014.

Simon Kirby, Network Rail 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.

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