Spring bank holiday Spotlight: Bristol resignalling.(Network Rail)

This spring bank holiday (28-30 May), more than 9,000 members of Network Rail’s Orange Army will be working night and day to deliver £30m of improvements to the railway as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan.

The work has been planned to minimise disruption, as passenger numbers typically drop by more than half during a bank holiday. The overwhelming majority of journeys will run as normal.

This series of bite-size features takes a closer look at the work our teams will be carrying out across Britain – from renewing track to upgrading signalling and helping to boost the capacity of the network – to create a better, more reliable railway.

Bristol Temple Meads station

The Bristol resignalling work is part of a programme to resignal the whole Great Western route

What will the work over the spring bank holiday weekend involve?

We’re replacing dated signalling – the traffic light system of the railway – in the Bristol area, installing and testing the new system over the weekend.

It’s the penultimate stage of the Filton Diamond resignalling programme, which has already seen the installation of more than 250km of new signalling and power cables. This latest phase will involve around 175 members of the Network Rail’s Orange Army working along 50 miles of railway line.

The final stage is due to take place over the August bank holiday, when control of the signalling system in this area will move to the state-of-the-art Thames Valley signalling centre in Didcot.

Why are we doing the work?

Resignalling the railway improves the reliability of train journeys, helping to improve services for passengers.

The new system will replace equipment from the 1960s and 1970s with the latest technology, paving the way for smoother journeys and fewer delays.

This essential resignalling work will also prepare the Great Western Main Line for the arrival of electrification and the new fleet of longer, faster, quieter and greener electric trains.

In addition, it will help to prepare for the doubling of the tracks from two to four along the Filton bank, helping to improve capacity on this part of the rail network and meet the demand of increasing numbers of passengers.

This project forms part of our programme to resignal the whole of the Great Western route.

Our work to increase reliability and capacity on the network, together with the ability of the new electric trains to reduce journey times and accommodate more passengers, will also help to drive economic growth across South Wales, the west and south west, and the Thames Valley.

Andy Haynes, Network Rail’s project director for the west of England

How will train services be affected?

The lines between Bristol Parkway and Swindon, Newport, Bristol Temple Meads, Gloucester and Severn Beach will be closed temporarily in both directions.

During this time, trains will be diverted and in some cases replacement bus services will be in operation.

Passengers are advised to check journey plans on the National Rail website before travelling.

Find out more

Modernising the Great Western route

Photograph of Bristol Temple Meads station: Chris McKenna