The Department for Transport, Great Western Railway and Network Rail are discussing how they can deliver passenger benefits in the current franchise to mitigate delays in the Great Western Main Line electrification programme.
RAIL understands that the biggest issue is passenger capacity. Without the ability to operate a full electric service on long-distance and commuter services, long-planned cascades of diesel trains - such as the Class 165/166 fleets to Bristol and the South West - may not be able to happen, leading to knock-on effects elsewhere.
GWR has tested short-formation High Speed Trains, and these could potentially be used on longer-distance services currently operated by multiple units, such as Cardiff-Portsmouth and Exeter-Penzance. They could also be used on some of the longer branch lines in the South West, such as Par-Newquay and Exeter-Barnstaple, although neither GWR nor the DfT would confirm this. A potential additional order for bi-mode AT300 hybrid trains could also be under consideration.
- For more on this story read RAIL 795 published on March 2