Passengers planning on using the West Coast main line this Easter are being advised to travel either side of the bank holiday with major improvements to a railway junction in Watford closing Euston for four days. Network Rail is investing £10.8m to upgrade track and overhead lines on the West Coast South route to improve future journeys between London and Crewe. The main focus for engineers will be the final phase to overhaul Watford junction which first began three years ago. The £15m project has seen track and signalling systems remodelled so more trains can run on the route into the capital in future.
During this last stage of the project all four West Coast main line tracks will need to be closed at Watford. All trains will start and finish at Milton Keynes between Good Friday (7 April) and Easter Monday (11 April) with rail replacement bus services connecting passengers with other main lines for onward travel into London*. With longer journey times, busier trains and rail replacement buses in operation during the railway closure, passengers are being advised that the best days to travel are Thursday 6 April and Tuesday 12 April. To plan journeys in advance people are being urged to check www.nationalrail.co.uk.
James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast South route director, said: “We’re once again returning to Watford junction to complete a huge £15m upgrade which will transform the way we can move trains through the area, meaning fewer delays and extra capacity on this economically important passenger and freight route.
“We know there’s never an ideal time to close the railway, so I’d like to thank people in advance for their patience ahead of this complex project. With Euston closed for four days my best advice is, if you can, travel either side of the bank holiday – before and after the railway closure – for the smoothest journey possible. Otherwise please plan ahead by checking National Rail Enquiries for the latest travel information.”
Other essential work which will see parts of the railway in Network Rail’s North West and Central region closed over the bank holiday include:
- A bridge replacement in Sutton Coldfield (closing the Cross City line between Birmingham New Street and Lichfield Trent Valley on 7-10 April)
- Multiple railway track upgrades along the West Coast main line between Lancaster and Carlisle (8- 11 April)
- Switches and crossings upgrade at Weaver junction in Cheshire on Easter Sunday meaning no direct services from Crewe to Liverpool
- Improvements to signalling – traffic lights for trains – in Crewe (7-11 April)
- Ongoing improvements to the Hope Valley line between Sheffield and Manchester
- Changes to West Coast main line journeys in Scotland because of continuing Carstairs junction upgrades
Passengers should plan ahead at www.nationalrail.co.uk or check with their train operator for the latest journey information. People can follow the progress of improvement work using the #EasterRailWorks hashtag on Twitter.
*From Good Friday (7 April) to Easter Monday (11 April) West Coast main line services will start and finish at Milton Keynes with bus replacement services to and from Bedford for passengers to make an onward connection for trains in and out of London from St Pancras. Passengers wanting to travel from stations south of Milton Keynes will be able to use a bus replacement service to Potters Bar to get a train into Kings Cross.