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Rail electrification heading for siding

 

Rail electrification heading for siding

ANY hope of electrifying the railway line between London and Swindon could be axed in the Government’s autumn spending review which was being announced today.

It was rumoured that the £1.1 billion plan to electrify the Great Western Main Line between London and Swansea, through Wiltshire and Swindon, might be a victim of the budget cuts.

The scheme – which would have slashed journey times between Swindon and London – were announcement by the Labour government last year.

Earlier this month the leader of Swindon Council, Rod Bluh, along with Swindon’s MPs – Robert Buckland and Justin Tomlinson – launched a campaign in support of the plans and urged the new coalition Government to honour them.

Coun Bluh said: “We have always known that the plans may be at risk and in fact it is not clear that the Treasury ever sanctioned them in the first place.

“But what is clear is that all the authorities involved are absolutely committed to the principle that it should happen – we’ve got a sound business case for it to happen.

“Irrespective of whether it happens now or in the future, it was right to start the campaign immediately and explain the consequences to transport ministers.”

He said statistics showed that the journey times from Swindon were still as slow as it was in the 1970s and the journey to London was one of the most expensive per mile in the whole of Europe.

Coun Bluh said: “The combined economic output of Swindon, Cardiff and Bristol is quite substantial.

“The area west of London is a major area for business in the UK and deserves to have the appropriate level of investment.”

The scheme would have involved installing overhead electric pylons and replacing existing diesel-powered trains with electrically-powered high speed locomotives.

Doing so would reduce existing travel times between Swindon and London by about 20 minutes – enabling the journey to be completed in 40 to 45 minutes, rather than an hour.

As well as making life easier for commuters, it was hoped the £1.1bn scheme would bring new investment into the town as companies and public sector organisations considering relocating are more likely to pick places with the quickest transport links to London.

 

 

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