Latest Rail News

10.10.13

Overhead line improvements to cut WCML delays

Network Rail is undertaking a £7.6m investment programme to improve overhead lines on the West Coast Main Line and reduce failures. 

OLE failures have been identified as a major cause of delay to services on the route, and engineers have recommended a series of improvements. Chris Gibb, outgoing chief operating officer for Virgin Trains, had also highlighted overhead lines as needing work when he was seconded to Network Rail. 

He said: “The cost of carrying out this work will show an immediate and positive return by improving performance for passenger and freight operators who use the southern end of the West Coast Main Line. The pace at which Network Rail and its contractors are getting on with this shows a determination to really get to grips with performance.” 

The work will remove defects, adjust equipment, improve operational performance of neutral sections and implement high level inspection of major junctions, as well as removing obsolete components such as old auxiliary wires. 

It will be delivered by Network Rail, working with SPL Powerlines UK (Siemens) and ABC (Alstom, Babcock, Costain). The improvements are expected to be complete in March 2014. 

Dyan Crowther, route managing director, Network Rail said: “We are currently delivering a series of projects to improve the performance of our infrastructure on the southern end of the West Coast main line, which is one of Britain’s most vital rail arteries. 

“This line has seen tremendous growth in traffic and passengers over the last five years and, just like a busy motorway during rush hour, more trains mean that if something goes wrong, the knock on effects can be significant. The work we are doing to improve the overhead lines is part of a £40m package of investment aimed at improving performance by targeting some of the most common causes of delay.” 

Simon Talman, operations director for SPL Powerlines UK, said: “We are very pleased to be assisting Network Rail on this project, which has also given us the platform to build for the future.” 

And Bob Halsey, ABC project director, commented: “This is vital work for the performance of the WCML and the collaborative approach our teams are taking to managing the works will ensure that the improvements are delivered quickly and safely.” 

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