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Piling for electrification at night

Great Western Mainline

Modernising the Great Western route.

We're creating faster, more reliable services, better stations and increased freight capacity.


This is the biggest investment in the Great Western railway since Brunel built it more than 150 years ago. Modernising the route will improve the experience of everyone who uses it and stimulate economic growth in the South West and beyond.

Great Western electrification

We’re electrifying one of Britain's oldest and busiest railways, providing greener, more reliable journeys and improving connections across southern England and South Wales: London and Bristol, including Cardiff, Newbury and Oxford.

Learn more about electrification

Transforming the railway at Reading

Reading station is one of the busiest rail hubs in Britain, used by nearly 20 million passengers a year. Starting in 2011, we’ve rebuilt the station and upgraded the railway in the Reading area, including redesigning the complicated track layout. This has removed one of the worst bottlenecks on the rail network.

Our new station at Reading was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen in July 2014, after being completed a year ahead of schedule. By summer 2015 we finished upgrading the railway in the surrounding area.

These improvements mean more trains can run through Reading each day, with fewer delays. Passengers can enjoy faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys, and a better, brighter station.

Modernising Paddington

We're restoring the roof and improving facilities at Paddington station, ready for the Great Western route upgrade and the arrival of Crossrail.

East-west links improved

The arrival of Crossrail services at Paddington in 2018 will transform east-west travel, bringing 1.5 million people within 45 minutes of London. Crossrail will also help to alleviate overcrowding on the Great Western route.

Improved facilities

Better retail choices and more food and drink outlets.

Better waiting facilities and more seating areas.

Ticket office

First Great Western will be carrying out work to the ticket office to provide 12 ticket counters, install new state-of-the-art ticket machines and transform its appearance using a Brunel-inspired design.

Roof restoration

We're working with English Heritage to restore the Grade 1 listed station’s Edwardian roof. This includes replacing the glazing with clear windows to let in more natural light, and cleaning and repainting pillars and steelwork.

Local work updates

Use the links below to find out about modernisation work on the Great Western line in your area.