Network Rail has completed the latest stage of a project in Bristol to undertake Britain’s largest ever signalling upgrade.
Once the whole Bristol Area Signalling Renewals and Enhancements (BASRE) is completed, passengers can expect more seats on rail services, much improved reliability, and almost double the number of services between Bristol and London.
July saw the transfer of signalling to one of the country’s most advanced signalling centres, which will ultimately boost capacity in the Bristol and Bath area.
This process involved moving traffic lights for the railway to the advanced signalling centre, and now most of BASRE is completed, Network Rail will include follow-up work this autumn around Bristol Parkway to deliver even more benefits to passengers.
The operation has now moved to the state-of-the-art digital control centre in Didcot; this means equipment that has been used since the 1970s has been modernised.
Bristol has also benefited from the installation of two railway lines between Filton Abbey Wood station and Bristol Temple Meads; undertaken last December, this has doubled the number of lines on the route to four.
These have improved services for businesses and passengers because local services can now run on separate lines, meaning that intercity services are faster due to less disruption.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Better and faster transport connections are crucial to building Bristol’s success, ensuring accessibility to new jobs and homes and supporting inclusive growth across the West of England.”
These extra lines also pave the way for faster, non-stop services between Bristol and London.
Moving forward, there will be wholesale timetable changes introduced – the first since the 1970s – giving passengers more frequent services and faster journey times.
The additional services will see journey times cut by more than a quarter of an hour.
Network Rail’s signalling upgrades don’t end in the west of England; during Control Period 6 (CP6), some of the most significant upgrades will take place.