Bid to electrify 29-mile North Downs railway line

Bid to electrify 29-mile North Downs railway line :A campaign to electrify 29 miles of railway has seen Surrey County Council (SCC) and Great Western Railway (GWR) join forces to seek government funds for the project.

County Councillor Mike Goodman said the work on the North Downs Line, between Reading and Gatwick Airport, could cost between £80m and £140m.

He said GWR and SCC were working to build a case to make a bid for funds.

The scheme may create 8,000 jobs and a £1.8bn economy boost, Mr Goodman said.

The cabinet member for environment and planning, said electrification of the line would speed up trains and allow people to access jobs in London and at Gatwick.
‘No guarantee’

Tom Pierpoint, from GWR, said “With a relatively modest investment, compared to other projects, it gives us the opportunity to run more services, to run faster journeys between Reading and Guildford and Gatwick Airport, potentially with better trains as well.”

He said the line could also link to wider destinations and potentially see trains running from Gatwick through to Oxford.

But he said: “This is something we want to happen but there’s no commitment, no guarantee that it’s going to happen.”

Mr Pierpoint said work could not start realistically until 2019 and would take two to three years to complete, but he said: “The sooner we build this case and the stronger we can make this case, the sooner the improvement will happen.”

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