THE planned electrification of the railway between Oxford and Didcot is to be delayed, the Government has announced.

Transport minister Paul Maynard said electrification between Oxford and Didcot Parkway was one of four electrification schemes that were being 'deferred' although no timeframe has been given for when the work will take place.

He said benefits expected by passengers - newer trains with more capacity – could still be introduced without requiring costly and disruptive electrification works.

He added: "This will provide between £146m to £165m in this spending period, to be focused on improvements that will deliver additional benefits to passengers.

"We remain committed to modernising the Great Western mainline and ensuring that passenger benefits are achieved.

"This decision underscores the Government’s approach to wider rail investment; that passenger outcomes must be delivered in conjunction with achieving the best value from every pound spent."

Great Western Railway spokesman James Davis said the company was determined that its passengers should see improvements by 2019, including the replacement of Intercity 125 high speed trains with Hitachi Intercity express trains.

He said: "We aim to deliver 9,000 extra seats on trains across the network including on trains running between Oxford and London Paddington.

"There could also be journey-time improvements on long-distance journeys - journey time improvements from Oxford to London is not something we have ever promised."

In a further statement the company said it has been working closely with the Department for Transport and Network Rail on ways to deliver the improvements since the changes to the electrification scheme were announced last year.

Mr Davis added: “Customers will be disappointed at these further delays to parts of the electrification programme even following Sir Peter Hendy’s review earlier this year.

“However, we are determined our customers should not wait a day longer than absolutely necessary to see the benefits they’re expecting from what will be the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation.

“We have already made significant progress with the DfT in finding ways to provide the improvements we planned, without the electrified infrastructure expected following the Hendy Review.

" We are reviewing the implications of today’s announcement with the Department and hope to say more soon.”