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Major West Coast signalling upgrade work set to start

Major signalling upgrade work to renew a junction connecting the railway line between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey and the West Coast Main Line (WCML) is to start later this month. 

The work, which will see engineers from Siemens upgrade the manually operated junction to one that will be mechanised and operated with more modern technology, will run for four weeks. 

Starting at 19:40 on 29 November, it means the Abbey line will be closed until 05:54 on 29 December. 

Network Rail has labelled the work as an “essential” part of the £81m project, which aims to deliver a more reliable railway between Milton Keynes and London Euston. 

This includes the complete renewal of signalling and signalling power supplies between Kings Langley and Bushey, as well as the renewal of 15km of track and S&C and OLE upgrades. 

Jim Syddall, acting route managing director for Network Rail, said: “The section of track through Watford Junction is one of the most intensively used, high-speed pieces of railway in Britain and has seen tremendous growth in traffic and passengers over the last five years. 

“A key part of the scheme to upgrade the track and signalling through Watford includes the renewal of the junction which connects the Abbey line to the WCML. 

“There is never a good time to close the railway and we apologise for the inconvenience this will cause but this work is essential to maintain reliable train services for passengers who travel on the Abbey line.” 

Terry Oliver, London Midland’s head of West Coast services, added that during the December closure, buses will replace trains on the Abbey line. 

“We recognise that this is quite a long closure at a particularly busy time of the year,” he said. “However, following the two-week closure of the Abbey Line in August, we have listened to passenger feedback and revised our rail-replacement bus plan for December accordingly.”

John Nixon, Network Rail Infrastructure Projects’ senior programme manager for the works, recently told RTM why August’s works had been so important to the Watford Area Renewals Programme

During the three weekends, the team had a number of piling gantry and straight post signal installations to carry out, plus the installation of gantry dropper cages, fast line gantry legs as well as gantry booms. 

(Image: Work being carried out at Watford Junction in August)

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