Thames Valley Branch

Thames Valley Electrification

Member Stuart Hicks has made further observations on the state of progress of the electrification in mid April 2016. Here are his observations.

Wiring Work

Work on the Great Western electrification from Airport Junction, Hayes & Harlington to Newbury, Cardiff and Thingley Junction continues and the position in September 2017 was that:

Paddington - Maidenhead - Complete and open to traffic, with many class 387 electric trains particularly at peak hours

Maidenhead - Reading - Complete and open only for testing,

Reading - Didcot - Complete and open to traffic

Didcot - Uffington - Nearing completion, many OLE wire runs now installed

Uffington to Shrivenham - Almost all OLE structures installed, and small parts fit out well underway,

Shrivenham - South Marston - Most OLE structures now installed

South Marston - Swindon - Most OLE bases and foundations complete,

Swindon - Thingley - Many OLE structures now installed, with some small/p> parts fit out, and OLE wire runs now installed, Vootton Bassett - Bristol Parkway - Many OLE structures now installed, with some small parts fit out, and OLE wire runs now installed

Reading West to Newbury. Outside of station precincts there are only short stretches of line now without masts. Masts are increasingly being fitted with cantilever arms or portals - there is one stretch which is already mostly done near Aldermaston. No registration arms have yet been fitted. Platforms still need lengthening and the footbridge at Newbury Station replaced, possibly this Christmas to new year break. Masts in station precincts will be probably be erected during/after platform lengthening.

GWR IET - first impressions by Stuart Hicks - 16 October runs

The first public train that I saw was formed of 5 car sets 800008 and 800009 on the 0700 Paddington to Bristol, which I photographed leaving Reading heading west in the early light.  This returned as the 0930 to London, continuing as the 1145 to Swansea and return.<\p>  

The first up working (sets 800006 and 800005), on which I travelled from Reading to London did not augur quite so well.  It had been delayed by 25 minutes at Bristol owing to technical problems before departure, although that had gave me the opportunity to photograph that down pair.  It was still about 25 minutes late at reading, and reported full and standing, although that was not the case in the second coach where I got a table seat.  And with good company too, as Mark Hopwood was sitting just down the coach.  In the first class section were invited guests etc, who (on Paddington platform 3 later) included peter Hendy, Andy Mellors, the DfT's GWR franchising manager, and many of the senior and middle management teams.  But when it tried to change to electric working it ground to a halt at Taplow and the driver had to summon technical assistance over the pa.  This delayed us further and messed up the morning peak service – although one HST passed us several other trains were delayed for up to half an hour.   And the Wi-Fi cut out too when the diesels were eventually restarted.   Luckily a trusty HST was found for the 0815 to Cardiff that was supposed to be the next working although the return working was cancelled.  The offending units were set to North Pole for examination and rectification that diagram was not IET for the rest of the day.  Initially outside when I passed they had been tucked away later when I returned, although WoE 9 car 802101 was outside (in GWR green) along with 800014 in grey.

So instead of the 0815 IEP to Cardiff as far as Didcot I took the 0915 HST and had a shorter wait for the up run of the other pair, which duly arrived close to time (delayed by a preceding Swansea HST).  I took 800009 to London in standard class, and return in first class to Reading in 800008 on the 1145 down.   This run was broadly fine and the electric traction worked from Maidenhead (you could see the Pantographs shadow).  

Some other comments:<\b>

Water is badly laid out as hands have to be high up so water tends to go onto the floor<\p>

No roller towels

Toilet door hands are quite difficult to manipulate

Trolleys park in entrances can block progress along train

There are power sockets to every seat (in first class next to seta arms) but under every standard class seat and not at all obvious, and not mentioned in the literature available on train and stations

Seat reservations on second up train did not work but the trusty labels were present (luckily there are slots for them).

Tables are quite spacious and leg room looks good at both tables and airline seats in Standard class

Air conditioning leads something to be desired – the first train was too hot and humid - the windows steamed up at one point (and indeed in the back sets three were two bays in one coach that were water on the tables and were taped off

Acceleration on diesel is not that good (first up run) – on electric it’s good – the second up run was on electric from Maidenhead (the shadow of the pan was visible!) and was checked near Ealing and accelerated well from that,

Wi-Fi did not work in 800009,

First class has no bins (as staff are supposed to clear), <

The buttons for the UAT are opposite the door buttons so you can well try to get into the toilet when you actually want to alight – might be better the other side of the toilet door.

The leaflet shows that 10 car trains will be formed A (quiet) to E (1st) and then G (quiet) to L (1st) at London end – but the 0600 Bristol arrived with E at the front………….. Platform information displays simply said that coaches D, E, K and L all had first class, without saying where they were (e.g. “front and middle” or “rear and middle”), and also – no doubt inadvertently- give the impression of a lot of first class seating.  

last updated: 19/10/17