Major track renewal at Milton Keynes station has been completed on time as part of Network Rail’s £148m engineering programme over Christmas.
The project, which is part of the multi-billion-pound Railway Upgrade Plan, saw track at platform 6 being entirely replaced on the fast lines which link London with the West Midlands, the North West and Scotland.
More than 500 metres of track was renewed, as well as 430 metres of new track-side drainage.
Work to remove the old infrastructure began on Sunday 23 December, with the updated track operational for trains.
Howerd Kernahan, programme manager for Network Rail on the Milton Keynes project, said: “These improvements, as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, mean faster and more reliable journeys for the millions of passengers who rely on the West Coast main line every year.
“The team worked round-the-clock over Christmas to carry out this essential track renewal. It was a complex job but it was well planned and delivered and we were able to hand back the lines to run at a much faster speed than expected this morning.
“After major work like this we’d expect trains would initially be able to travel at up to 60mph, but as the track renewal went so well we were able to hand back the lines at the full line running speed of 125mph.”
A total of 25,000 people are working on improving Britain’s railway network over the Christmas and New Year period, with many other projects still ongoing.
Passengers are being advised to check before they travel by using nationalrail.co.uk to see how that continuing work may impact on their journeys.
On the London North Western route between London Euston, the West Midlands, the North West and Cumbria, other areas of work include:
- Preparation work for HS2 at London Euston: preparatory work is taking place in sidings, some lines north of Euston in the Camden area, and on some platforms at Euston station over the Christmas period. Work includes cable laying, removal/installation of overhead line steelwork, and drainage improvement.
- Signalling upgrades in Liverpool as part of the Weaver to Wavertree resignalling project: until 12.30am on Wednesday 2 January signalling areas in Allerton, Speke and Garston are being recontrolled to the Manchester Rail Operating Centre. The upgrades will enable more reliable journeys and boost capacity in the area. During the work rail replacement buses are running between Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway. It also means changes to some services to/from Liverpool Lime Street.
- Remodelling of station platforms and track on Merseyside: at James Street, Hamilton Square, Conway Park and Birkenhead Park on the Merseyrail network. This will prepare the Merseyrail stations for the arrival of their new, state-of-the-art trains from 2020 – in particular, making sure that the new trains’ sliding step can meet the platform edge. The work involves station and line closures, but rail replacement buses are in operation between Thursday 27 December and Thursday 3 January.
In the Greater Manchester area work on the Great North Rail Project is ongoing until 6pm on New Year’s Day, to ensure faster, greener, new electric trains can be welcomed onto the network next year. It includes:
- Boosting of electrical feeds between Ordsall and Stalybridge: work to install an additional electrical feed which will provide extra resilience to power electric trains in the North West in 2019.
- Overhead wire installation at Manchester Victoria: overhead wires are being installed on the eastern lines outside Manchester Victoria station impacting some services during the work.
- Tunnel cabling work in Ashton-under-Lyne: preparation work is taking place in the Katherine Street tunnel to enable lineside cables to be laid.
- Lineside drainage improvements: work is being carried out to upgrade drainage near Ashton-under-Lyne station.
The Christmas and New Year upgrade work on the London North Western route and Great North Rail Project is part of Network Rail’s £50 billion five-year Railway Upgrade Plan, which is the biggest investment in the railway since Victorian times.