The huge project overran and cost far more than planned, but passengers can expect more services and faster journeys

It has come years late, with bits missing and at double the price. But a landmark moment in one of rail’s most costly and controversial sagas, the Great Western mainline upgrade, may still give cause for appreciation this week, when an Inter City Express train carries passengers for the first time along an electrified section of the route.

The train and, in particular, the electrified track, have had a long and painful genesis: interlinked projects costing billions more than originally planned. The idea to purchase bi-mode trains, able to run on diesel and electricity, was conceived by the Department for Transport a decade ago, leading to a new Hitachi assembly plant in Britain rolling out Class 800 trains.

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