Hitachi AT300 trainset for Great Western Railway.

UK: Funding for a study into the potential for electrification and raising line speeds between London, Devon and Cornwall was announced on February 9. The study is to be funded and commissioned by franchisee Great Western Railway and carried out by Network Rail, and will be used to inform a report on southwest England’s future railway needs which the Peninsula Rail Task Force of local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships is due to submit to the government this summer.

The study will look at what could be done to improve existing track, signalling and other infrastructure, both to increase speeds and to maximise the benefits from the 29 Hitachi AT300 trainsets which are due to enter service on the London Paddington – Plymouth – Penzance route from 2018.

‘With such significant investment on its way, we need to take the opportunity now to make sure the right infrastructure can be in place to maximise the journey time, frequency and capacity benefits that the new AT300 fleet will bring’, said GWR Commercial Development Director Matthew Golton. ‘Our report will help provide information and data to help support the business case for further infrastructure improvements and better connectivity for the region.’

‘We are pleased that the funding has been found to explore the potential for faster journey times and electrification’, said the Peninsula Rail Task Force. ‘The Task Force has been working with the Department of Transport and Network Rail since last summer on planning the report and naturally GWR has been a key partner in our work. The support from GWR enables us to fulfil our joint commitment to a detailed and rigorous document, which is something that all of agreed was required from the outset.’