On this week’s episode of RTM’s Track Talk, host Ailsa Cowen is joined by Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail’s East Coast Upgrade. Ed gives an update on the £1.2bn project, the importance of collaboration and why the project feels like performing open heart surgery on a live patient.
Ed talks to us about the Werrington Grade Separation and how the 11,000-ton curved concrete box structure, which is “about as long as and as heavy as the Eiffel Tower” is being put into place.
He discusses the issue of trains carrying empty seats and how he isn’t concerned about all this momentous work on the ECML and people may still be hesitant travel, “It’s not just about the here and now for the ECML programme, it’s about the future.”
The upgrade programme has also recently announced a £10 million co-investment partnership with the University of Leeds and upon reflection Ed said, “it’s vital that the industry looks wider, not just to itself but also to other expertise.”
He tells us about how local suppliers helped keep the project going in the first lockdown, and continue to do so. “It’s really important that we continue to look after local communities and local employers and suppliers wherever we can because you never know when they are going to come through for you.”
Ed also spoke with passion about the future of our railways, “I really hope in 10 years’ time we see a greater roll out of electrification.”