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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Super-fast work to improve West Coast main line journeys

Train journeys are being made more reliable on the West Coast main line thanks to major work to upgrade drainage, track and signalling equipment in North London.

Thirty-four individual projects will take place along a seven-mile stretch of railway between Saturday 20 and Wednesday 31 March.

This amount of work would normally take three years of consecutive overnight weekend shifts to complete and cost around £19.8m.

While fewer passengers are travelling due to the latest coronavirus lockdown, Network Rail has teamed up with train operators to close two out of the four railway lines.

This will allow for these multiple upgrades to be done all at once rather than one at a time.

The super-fast approach over 11 days will bring costs down to £6m – saving the taxpayer £13.8m.

It’s all to improve future journeys on one of Europe’s busiest mixed-use passenger and freight railway lines.

The upgrades include:

  • Drainage improvements in the Victorian-built Kensal Green Tunnel to prevent delays from flooding during bad weather
  • Major track renewals between Primrose Hill and Willesden Junction
  • Installation of new signalling equipment
  • Removal of graffiti and scrap metal from beside the railway

James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast Mainline South route director, said: 

“This rare opportunity to do all of this work in one go shows how the rail industry is coming together to get the West Coast main line in the best possible shape for passengers when they can return as part of our commitment to build back better.

“For those who are still travelling by rail for reasons permitted by government, I’d urge people to check National Rail Enquiries before they set off on their journey so they know what to expect.”

The work means journeys will take longer than usual while two out of the four railway lines are out of use.

London Northwestern Railway will be running an amended timetable with fewer services stopping at Bushey and Harrow & Wealdstone. 

There will be slight changes to the departure and arrival times at London Euston for Avanti West Coast services.

Passengers should check www.nationalrail.co.uk or with their train operator during the upgrades.

Gus Dunster, executive director of operations and safety at Avanti West Coast, said: 

“Working with industry partners we have amended our timetable to facilitate Network Rail’s work near London Euston, while protecting our vital services for key workers. This work will help to improve reliability on the approach to Euston station. As a result, the departure and arrival times at London Euston have changed. If customers are making an essential journey during this time, we strongly recommend they check before they travel, plan their journey in advance and make a reservation.”

Lawrence Bowman, customer experience director for London Northwestern Railway, said: 

“We know how highly our customers value a reliable service and these important track improvements will make a real difference and reduce the likelihood of disruption in the future. Our trains will run to an amended timetable during the work, with fewer trains calling at Bushey and Harrow & Wealdstone. I advise passengers making essential journeys during this period to check their travel plans in advance and leave extra time if necessary.”

Passengers making essential journeys between 20-31 March are urged to check before travelling at www.nationalrail.co.uk or with their train operator.

Photo credit: Network Rail

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