These improvements are very good news indeed
THE overhead wires on the Great Western main line will be designed for trains to run at up to 140mph. That is according to the Department for Transport's Invitation to Tender for the Great Western franchise.
The DFT expects bidders to reveal how they will work with Network Rail to deliver overhead wire plans between 2013 and 2018.
It has asked Network Rail to have the overhead wires between London, Oxford and Newbury ready for the December 2016 timetable and for Bristol by spring 2017.
With this there will also changes to track layouts at Bristol east including the four tracks between Lawrence Hill and Filton Abbeywood being reinstated.
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However, there has been no mention of putting back the closed down relief/carriage line from Pyle Hill to Parson Street.
This line will be needed for extra train capacity and the proposed passenger and freight trains using the Portishead line.
At the moment there are three lines on the west side of Temple Meads. The up and down main lines and an up relief. With more trains planned for this section the only real solution is to reinstate the down relief/carriage line beyond Parson Street and also put in a new track from the up main line which will enable stopping trains to be routed onto the up relief before Parson Street station.
Freightliner at South Liberty Lane are due to increase the amount of trains serving their West Depot by 50 per cent. There will also be other proposed freight traffic, both for Portbury and further west. All this increases the need for extra main line capacity in the shape of the reinstated down relief/carriage line.
Bristol Temple Meads will get extra capacity by reinstating two platforms in Brunel's train shed. And at Bristol Parkway a fourth platform will be added.
All these rail improvements are very good news indeed, but what about the electrification of the proposed new Portishead and Henbury Loop passenger lines as well as the Severn Beach line and the line to Weston-super-Mare.
In addition a second track needs to be put back from Worle Junction to Weston. The current single line causes so many delays because it creates a bottleneck and if only one train is late it can disrupt many others.
Dave Wood is a member of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union, Bristol and writes here in a personal capacity