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. This project is also part of our London upgrade plan, creating new connections and increasing capacity in peak hour by 30 per cent.
Driver's eye-view of progress of the Great Western electrification project from London Paddington to Swindon, 10 October 2017.
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.
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.
Better retail choices and more food and drink outlets.
Better waiting facilities and more seating areas.
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.
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.