Rail passengers in South Wales are benefitting this week from electric services for the first-time following Network Rail’s successful completion of electrification of the railway between Cardiff Central and London Paddington.

Electrification between the two capital cities means thousands of extra seats, more frequent services and quicker journeys for passengers as they travel on GWR’s Intercity Express Trains.

Over the Christmas and New Year period, Network Rail engineers worked around the clock to switch on the electricity running through the overhead line equipment between St Brides, Newport and west of Cardiff Central station.

After successful testing, passengers are now benefitting from an average journey time saving of 14 minutes between South Wales and London and an additional 15,000 weekday seats between the two capital cities.

This major modernisation project has involved electrifying over 150 miles of track between Cardiff and London, including in Wales, installing over 4,200 masts and booms which hold the overhead wires in place, installing approximately 400 miles of wire and making changes to 49 different structures.

Electrification in South Wales follows electric services already being introduced in stages between London Paddington and the south west in recent years, providing thousands of extra seats, more services and quicker journeys on a greener railway for passengers in Bristol, Swindon, Reading, Newbury and now Newport and Cardiff.

Mark Langman, Network Rail’s Managing Director for Wales and Western said: “I am delighted that services can now run on electricity between Cardiff and London, linking the two capital cities for the very first time via an electric railway.

“This is the culmination of the largest modernisation project on the Great Western railway since it was built in Victorian times, which we have been working on over the last 10 years.

“Train performance has been very good since electric services have been operating, and together with the new timetable, passengers are already reaping the benefits of this huge modernisation.    

“I would like to thank passengers and lineside neighbours for their patience over the past decade as we worked to deliver the transformation of this vital railway and am glad that they will benefit from these improvements for years to come.”