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West Coast Main Line to receive major improvement work

25 April 2013

Work on the West Coast Main Line will be carried out this summer 2013 to increase the speed that trains can travel. Four major rail junctions will also be replaced. The work will improve the reliability of the infrastructure and the punctuality of train services on Britain’s busiest mixed-use railway line.


The £18m improvement scheme will be completed over nine days from Saturday 13 July 2013 to Sunday 21 July 2013 when four life-expired junctions will be replaced and three miles of track re-laid.

Temporary service alterations

Over an 18 mile stretch of line near Wigan during this time, trains will be unable to use the Warrington to Preston section of the route. Train operators are developing timetables for alternative services, which will be publicised and available through rail journey planning and train company websites.

Leaflets will also he handed out at stations in advance of the work and a number of road shows will be held at stations to explain what is happening and to answer any questions.

Minimising travel disruption

We would normally carry out work of this kind over a number of Bank Holiday weekends meaning repeated replacement train services. By carrying out the work in a nine-day continuous spell this summer, we expect to complete the replacement of the four junctions around 16 months earlier, thereby avoiding disrupting rail travel plans for many weekends and nine bank holidays over the next two years.

“There is never a good time to carry out major work on such a busy route and after careful discussion with the train operators and industry partners, it became apparent that undertaking this vital investment in nine consecutive days in July would, overall, cause less disruption.

Train services are quieter at this time and fewer people are expected to experience changes to their travel plans.”

Dyan Crowther, route managing director, London North Western, Network Rail 

The work

The temporary line closure will affect passengers using services run by Virgin Trains, Northern and First TransPennine Express. The work will be carried out along 18 Miles of railway and the materials will be delivered by 61 trains in 865 wagons:

  • Renewing three miles of track
  • Upgrading four main line junctions
  • Laying 6,600 new railway sleepers
  • Pouring 21,500 tonnes of ballast

The benefits

The improvements will mean train services can run at up to 75 mph over the four upgraded junctions – Golborne Junction, Bamfurlong, Wigan Springs Branch, Balshaw Lane Junction. The reliability of the rail infrastructure will have been improved and it will be easier to maintain.

More about the West Coast Main Line part closure in July.