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A £704m plan to electrify the Great Western Main Line between Cardiff, Bristol and Didcot have been given the go-ahead by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

It builds on November’s announcement of electrification between London Paddington, Didcot, Newbury and Oxford, and will give Wales its very first main line electrified railway, cutting 17 minutes from Cardiff to London journeys and 22 minutes from Bristol to London journeys.

Philip Hammond said:
“Extending electrification westwards to Bristol and Cardiff will also bring all the benefits of electric trains – faster acceleration, greater comfort and cleaner, greener travel – to rail passengers in Wales and the south west.

“We have also established that a strong high-level case may exist for electrifying some of the Valley lines north of Cardiff. My Department will now work with the Welsh Assembly Government to develop a business case for the electrification of the Cardiff Valley lines.”

He also gave the go-ahead for the £4.5bn Intercity Express Programme which will see the building of a combination of around 100 electric trains and bi-mode – diesel and electric – intercity trains which will run to Great Western Main Line stations including Oxford, Swindon, Reading, Cardiff, Swansea, Bath and Bristol and to East Coast Main Line stations such as Peterborough, York, Doncaster, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness.

The train operating companies will contribute to the design and specification of the new fleet of IEP trains in greater detail than they had before. As soon as the trains become operational passengers will see improvements to reliability and comfort.

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