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Network Rail completes Easter upgrade work on time

More than £100m of upgrade work has been completed – on time and on budget – over the Easter period, Network Rail has confirmed. 

Work undertaken during the holiday period saw an army of more than 14,000 men and women working around the clock to deliver the improvements. 

At Reading, for instance, new freight lines were installed that will completely separate passenger and freight services for the first time, removing the delays that were previously experienced when some passenger services had to wait for slower freight trains to pass through before commencing their journeys. 


Network Rail’s re-signalling project at Slough also ran to schedule. 

Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, said: “These were ambitious projects to complete over the Easter weekend and are important milestones in our Easter package of improvement work, the biggest package of improvement work carried out on the Western route to date. 

“These vital pieces of work pave the way for fewer delays and smoother journeys for passengers." 

However, he added that the Easter package of improvement work continues this week with the installation of new track and signalling equipment on the relief lines between Didcot and Reading. 

“We still have a significant amount of work to complete in the Thames Valley, which is why I would urge anyone travelling over the next week to check before they travel,” said Hallgate. 

Following the project overruns at King’s Cross and Paddington over Christmas, which caused chaos to thousands of travellers, Network Rail reviewed all its contingency plans for works scheduled over Easter and the May 2015 bank holidays

At the time Mark Carne, chief executive of NR, said: “Putting passengers at the heart of our planning is absolutely the right thing to do and we recognise that we let people down during the disruption experienced on 27 and 28 December.” 

During the four-day period at Easter, a rail-over-road bridge south of Watford Junction station was demolished and a new one installed which will enable line speeds to be increased through the area. As part of the wider £81m upgrade scheme, the team also replaced old track, signalling and junctions.

 Earlier this year, John Nixon, senior programme manager on the project at Watford Junction, told RTM that robust planning was key to the Watford renewals work. 

Also at the weekend, as part of the £6.5bn Thameslink Programme, track was re-laid and moved, signals replaced and new equipment installed along several miles of railway stretching from Waterloo East to Bermondsey.

Easter 2015 New crossovers for new track, laid to allow viaduct demolition to start this year

Southeastern was unable to run trains through London Bridge over all four days, meaning passengers had to plan alternative routes to Cannon Street, Charing Cross and Waterloo East. 

But Thameslink Programme director Simon Blanchflower said: “The work we completed over the Easter holiday was a crucial part of the plan to improve services through central London. 

“There is no good time to do this disruptive work but by doing it over the holiday we were able to reduce the impact on the millions of passengers who use London Bridge, Charing Cross, Waterloo East and Cannon Street every week.

 Removal of gantry

“By moving the track around, we’ve made the space for some more major work out at Bermondsey that will take place later this year. This will provide a new dive-under to separate Thameslink services from those travelling to Charing Cross and improve punctuality and reliability.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Edward Evans   10/04/2015 at 10:51

It is a pity that passengers on the WCML North of Preston had to complete their journey to Carlisle and Glasgow by bus then! Alternative routes, via Settle and Dumfries were available, but it seems that the TOC's and Network Rail wish to spend Taxpayers Money on supporting the bus industry! The TOC's could easily hire some alternative traction, but instead passengers were treated to inferior buses on the M6!

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