Network Rail’s orange army improved the railway and kept West Coast and Chiltern main line customers on the move in 2016. Major segments of Britain’s Railway Upgrade Plan were delivered, including in Staffordshire, Oxfordshire, Cumbria, Cheshire and Worcestershire.

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “Our orange army has delivered, and is continuing to deliver, major railway improvements bringing big benefits for train customers both now and in future.” 

  • January - Announced: a £17m scheme to waterproof and refurbish Cheshire’s iconic Holmes Chapel and Peover viaducts, on the Sandbach to Northwich line, for generations to come.
  • February - Completed: Manchester to Bolton trains began travelling at full speed through Farnworth Tunnel engineers finished enlarging it to house electric trains in future.
  • March - Opened: £250m Norton Bridge flyover, near Stafford, cutting journey times. Announced: £340m Liverpool upgrades to bring improved services for customers by 2019.
  • April - ‘Rock armour’ was installed along the Cumbrian coast to protect the railway from high seas and make train services more reliable.
  • May - Improvements were made to the track layout at Oxenholme, Cumbria, to pave the way for more reliable train services in future.
  • June - work continues apace to build the Ordsall Chord to link Manchester’s three main train stations and help transform rail travel across the north.
  • July - A cat called Piggy was reported dead then miraculously found alive two days later by the orange army’s Dave Huntington under a high-voltage electric track at Bebington on Merseyside.
  • August - Completed: a £76m upgrade of tracks and signals around Banbury, Oxfordshire, to improve services for customers on the Chiltern main line.
  • September - Engineers designing the upgrade of Liverpool Lime Street station used state-of-the-art virtual reality technology to save money and improve safety.
  • October - Network Rail, Virgin and Caledonian Sleeper transported 350 Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes on a chartered train from Manchester to London as part of nationwide Rio 2016 celebrations.
  • November - Completed: £100m upgrade paving the way for electrified services in future on the Bromsgrove to Birmingham line.
  • December - Launched: Chiltern Railways’ new central Oxford to Marylebone service after Network Rail’s £320m upgrade. Rugby track workers released a Christmas song, ‘Away on the railway.’ Major work took place on the Ordsall Chord in Manchester.