Since the 1800’s, railway has dominated the transport industry in Britain. It has evolved from steam train to locomotive and now it is set to push limits as it travels faster through counties and countries than ever before. The new Crossrail will improve journey times through the city of London, as well as relieve congestion at rush hour, whereas the new Swansea to Heathrow line looks to shave over an hour off the current time, especially with the current developments to electrify the line from Swansea to London to provide a faster, greener journey. With these new radical improvements to our rail system, it doesn’t look like the railways will ever stop evolving.
Rail improvements in London
The Crossrail project was proposed in 2003 and is the biggest infrastructure project with a vast reach from Reading in Berkshire to Abbey Wood in South East London. This project will include 10 new stations over 62 miles and seeks to improve travel times and ease human traffic at peak times. It has boosted employment with over 10,000 people working on the construction on 40 different sites and it will improve connections between London’s main employment areas such as the West End, Paddington and Heathrow, Canary Wharf and the city. It is due to be completed in 2018, increasing London’s rail capacity by a staggering 10%, the biggest increase since World War II, and opening up the city to 1.5 million people who will be able to access London in a mere 45 minutes.
To ease the current congestion that happens at peak times, there will be an increase in trains operating along this line. There will be 24 trains operating across the Paddington and Whitechapel areas during peak times every hour; this will dramatically ease the buildup of crowds as each train will be able to carry 1,500 passengers. Between Reading and London’s city centre there will be 2 trains every hour, as well as 4 trains each hour from Heathrow Airport to the centre of London at peak times.
The Crossrail will greatly improve the economical standing in London by having an incredible 200 million people using the rail each year. By reducing travel times, this will encourage more people to ride the rails rather than using their cars, which will be caught up in London’s congestion, which will also have an impact on London’s environmental problems. Overall, the Crossrail cannot fail to benefit Britain.
Faster connecting service from Wales to London
On the 5th February 2014 it was announced by National Rail that there were plans for an extended rail from Reading to Heathrow Airport via the Great Western Main Line; this will be achieved by a junction between Iver and Langley stations as well as using a 3 mile tunnel to connect to Terminal 5 at the airport.
This new rail link will open doors for businesses who will be able to travel to Heathrow with ease; this will allow them to open new trading opportunities abroad as well as connecting to Heathrow accommodation that will allow faster travel for business meetings. This connection will also improve the time for business travellers in Wales by decreasing their travel to Heathrow by just under an hour, making the travel time 3 hours and 6 minutes, while residents of Reading could be at Heathrow accommodation half an hour earlier. At the moment, passengers must change at Reading or London Paddington in order to reach Heathrow airport which heightens the risk of delays to their journey, however, this new junction will ensure direct access.
If this half a million plan is accepted, work could be started as early as 2016 and in service by 2021, 3 years after the opening of the Crossrail.
Along with the new junction and 3 mile tunnel that will connect Wales to Heathrow at greater speeds, a £1 billion project was announced in 2009 to electrify the line from Wales to London. Electrifying the key lines will increase the speed of the train while also dramatically decreasing the noise pollution for the residents living along the line. It will also ensure that delays of services are reduced, meaning a much more reliable system, as well as accommodating for more passengers as the electric locomotives are larger than the standard diesel train. The electrification will connect Swansea, through Cardiff and Newport, up to Oxford, Reading and London and will be much cheaper to run, which could lead to much cheaper ticket prices for travellers. This project is due for completion in 2017 and is thought to reduce train journeys between Swansea and London Paddington by 19 minutes.
Together with the Crossrail and the new junction in between Iver and Langley, the electrification is another vital step in rail transport. Since the 1800’s, railway has become faster, steamless, electrified and greener and, with all this done in the last two centuries, who knows where the rail industry will be in the next 200 years.