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Work to begin on £8.6m project at ‘critical’ Newcastle station

An £8.6m project to upgrade points at Newcastle station is set to begin this Saturday.

Network Rail said the station was a “critical part” of the network and that the work was “absolutely essential,” despite any disruption it might cause to commuters.

A total of 19 sets of switches and crossings will be subject to upgrades in an effort to bring long-term sustainability to the track at the station.

The points at Newcastle were installed in the 1980s and are in dire need of replacement, having failed 15 times between January and October 2017.

Platforms 9-12 will be out of service for the duration of the work, which takes place between 6 and 14 January, and some services will be replaced by buses.

In addition, around 2,000 passenger trains that usually run across the city’s King Edward Bridge will be unable to run, with a further 260 freights also unable to travel.

Rob McIntosh, managing director for Network Rail’s London North Eastern and East Midlands route, said it was unfortunate that the delays would happen but reaffirmed that the work was vital.

“There is never a good time to carry out railway work which disrupts passengers but this upgrade is absolutely essential, and we have worked extremely closely with our train operating partners to keep disruption to a minimum and make passenger information as clear as possible,” McIntosh explained.

“Newcastle is a critical part of our network and by keeping the infrastructure safe and reliable we are meeting the needs of the economies and communities our railway serves for both the short and long term.”

Virgin Trains, which manages Newcastle station, said it would provide extra staff and signage to help customers during the engineering works. It will also run a full timetable on weekdays, although southbound services from Edinburgh will run 15 minutes earlier until they reach Newcastle, where they will then run as scheduled.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group said: “Rail companies are working together with a long-term plan to deliver major improvements to the railway which will boost the economy, better connect communities and improve journeys for customers, now and for the long term.

“Nationwide, our plan to change and improve the railway will mean 6,400 extra train services a week by 2021, over 5,700 new carriages and more rail jobs in towns and cities across the country."

Virgin also said the delays would affect services between London King’s Cross and Newcastle and Scotland which will take a diversionary route between York and Newcastle, forcing journey times to be extended by approximately 60 minutes, while some services will terminate at Darlington.

TransPennine Express services are also set to be hit by the work, as the majority of services on the Liverpool Lime Street–Newcastle and Manchester Airport–Newcastle routes will not run between York and Newcastle.

The work is part of the Great North Rail Project – the same scheme which has seen upgrades at Lime Street; the opening of Northern’s new Blackburn depot; and the construction of Manchester’s Ordsall Chord, all completed in the last year.

Top image: Network Rail

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John Grant   03/01/2018 at 15:20

Presumably there's only so much that can be done over Christmas, and other places were considered to be more important?

Jimbo   03/01/2018 at 18:01

@John Grant - Christmas works are often planned in years ahead of time (eg. Crossrail enabling works, Thameslink & London bridge), whereas this sounds like more like an emergency plan because the points were in worse condition than they though.

GW   03/01/2018 at 18:05

Another case of 'lazy engineering work' by Network Rail. Stuff the customer (freight) and passenger. Plenty more of these disgraceful schemes to come (Derby for instance plus the ongoing Blackpool scheme).

AJG   03/01/2018 at 21:29

Go on then GW. What do you suggest instead? Cut out all renewals in the railway?

AJG   03/01/2018 at 21:31

Go on then GW. What do you suggest instead? Cut out all renewals in the railway?

Pete   04/01/2018 at 07:53

Whilst it’s far from ideal for them to be doing this the first full week back for workplaces and schools, I can understand the need to do it urgently and that NR wouldn’t have foreseen this much in advance. I’m personally going to be affected as I commute between Durham and Newcastle, but at least they’re trying to maintain as much of a service as possible.

Gatesheadgeek   09/01/2018 at 13:47

At least Newcastle has the benefit of two routes to and from the south which allows about 50% of services to run. They've minimised disruption this week by diverting via the High Level Bridge, as work is concentrated on the station area but next weekend, it looks like they're diverting via the Durham Coast too. Makes a change from the lazy attitudes to blockades that NR have had in the past.

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