Balfour Beatty to electrify Bristol to Cardiff section of GWML

Photo: Joe Dunckley/

Balfour Beatty has been awarded a contract by Network Rail to electrify the Great Western main line (GWML) between Bristol Parkway and Cardiff.

The 40-mile section of main line will be the last section to be electrified as part of the route upgrade. Wires were to be installed all the way to Swansea but the government dropped the South Wales portion of the scheme last month.

Balfour Beatty will electrify the remaining sections of the route (6P, 8 and 9) between Bristol Parkway and Cardiff.

ABC, a joint venture between Alstom, Babcock Rail and Costain, had been the contractor for the route before the contract ended in April in this year.

Issues relating to the design and delivery of the GWML electrification have resulted in the project running late and over budget. This has been noted in several reviews, including one carried out by Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy.

Balfour Beatty said it will start on the final sections of the route this month and plans to complete the works by the end of next year.

Mark Bullock, managing director of Balfour Beatty’s UK Rail business, said: “Our selection to deliver this important upgrade to the UK rail network builds on our partnership with Network Rail and recognises Balfour Beatty’s capability and expertise.

“Balfour Beatty and Network Rail have successfully delivered the Crossrail West Outer Electrification Programme to schedule and I look forward to passengers seeing the benefits which will come when this new section of electrification is complete.”

Read more: Class 707s enter service on Windsor routes

Correction: The line will be electrified from Bristol Parkway to Cardiff not from Bath Spa and certainly not from Bath Parkway.


  1. Good. But what about electrifying to Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads so that GWR’s IET’s can change power from electric to diesel to carry on its usual journey to Exeter St. Davids and down to Cornwall.

  2. I would like to see the wires to be extended form Newbury to Taunton so that Class 802s can change to electric or diesel power at Taunton station and for Bedwyn services commuter Class 387s instead of Intercity Class 802s.

  3. What about plans to electrify the Midland Main Line (North of Bedford) to Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Kettering, Corby and Sheffield and possibly extend the MML electrification to Leeds. I guarantee that it could be given the go ahead next year.

  4. @Andrew Gwilt
    You could not guarantee any such thing. For a start Derby station area is to be rebuilt first, in a major scheme. Secondly, the Govt does not believe it is either necessary or affordable, at least beyond Kettering. The industry has to work within what is possible and practical, and here Govt is the problem. Also Network Rail’s electrification costs and standards, and ORR’s electrification clearance requirements. Without these being resolved, wave goodbye to significant electrification extensions in future.


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