Great Western Main Line
The Great Western Main Line is a main line railway in the United Kingdom, corresponding to the principal routes of the pre-1948 Great Western Railway which were subsequently taken over by the Western Region of British Railways and are now operated by First Great Western.
The route that diverges at Wootton Bassett near Swindon to Bristol Parkway, the Severn Tunnel, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea, known as the South Wales Main Line, is also part of the Great Western Main Line, as is the Berks and Hants Line, diverging at Reading to reach Exeter more directly via Newbury, Westbury and Castle Cary.
The main lines between Paddington and Bristol are capable of supporting 125mph operation, having been upgraded during the 1970s to support the introduction of the Intercity 125 (HST).
The line is electrified at 25 kV AC overhead between Paddington and the junction with the line to Heathrow Airport, and is one of only two lines in the UK to be equipped with the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system, the other being the Chiltern Main Line.
Further electrufucation of the Main Line would be difficult, since the size of the Severn Tunnel is too small to fit in overhead electric lines and without an extension to South Wales there would be insufficient traffic. Privatisation of the railways has also brought rail electrification in Britain to a virtual stop.
Routes in detail
London to Plymouth via Bristol
- London Paddington station, London
- Branch to Heathrow Airport
- Direct line diverges to Taunton (see below)
- Didcot Parkway
- Wootton Bassett (closed)
- Corsham (closed)
- Hampton Row Halt (closed)
- Bath Spa
- Twerton-on-Avon (closed)
- Saltford (closed)
- Bristol Temple Meads
- Nailsea and Backwell
- Weston-super-Mare (there is also an avoiding line around the town)
- Highbridge, for Burnham-on-Sea
- Tiverton Parkway
- Exeter St. Davids
- Dawlish (coastal stretch notably vulnerable to flooding)
- Newton Abbot
Reading to Taunton
- Line diverges to Basingstoke
- There is also an avoiding line around the town.
- Castle Cary
Note: Most direct London-Plymouth trains use this route.
Cornish Main Line
|Cornish Main Line|
- St Budeaux
- St Germans
- Bodmin Parkway
- St Austell
- St Erth
Note: The section of line between St Austell and Truro has recently been upgraded to double track, to allow better timekeeping and reduce delays to services.
|Main line railways in Great Britain:|
|High-speed main lines:||Channel Tunnel Rail Link|
|'Classic' main lines:|| Cross-Country Route East Coast Main Line Great Eastern Main Line |
Great Western Main Line Midland Main Line West Coast Main Line
|Railway lines in South-West England and the "Great Western" zone :|
|Main lines:|| Cross-Country Route Great Western Main Line|
Cherwell Valley Line Gloucester-Newport Line Exeter-Paignton "Riviera" Line South Wales Main Line
Wessex Main Line West of England Main Line
|Commuter lines:||Severn Beach Line Slough-Windsor & Eton Line|
|Rural lines:|| Exeter-Barnstaple "Tarka" Line Exeter-Exmouth "Avocet" Line Golden Valley Line Heart of Wessex Line |
Henley Branch Line Looe Valley Line Marlow Branch Line Par-Newquay "Atlantic Coast" Line
St Ives Bay Line Tamar Valley Line Truro-Falmouth "Maritime" Line