Christmas railway improvements are on schedule

As part of the national Railway Upgrade Plan, our teams of engineers and contractors are working day and night on some of the country’s largest infrastructure projects this Christmas (Saturday 23 December 2017 to Monday 1 January 2018 inclusive).

Tens of thousands of passengers are set to benefit from thousands of new, more frequent train services being introduced from next year as a result of our biggest ever Christmas investment programme – a £160m investment and a part of the £50bn Railway Upgrade Plan. 

There are 32,600 railway workers supporting the Christmas and New Year programme of improvements, on the tracks and across 3,400 work sites, as well as in signal boxes, rail operating centres and offices around the network.

Our projects are progressing well and work continues apace.

Highlights so far


Our engineers are hard at work in Ilford, East London, replacing more than 10km of old 1950s overhead wires for more reliable journeys between Norwich and London.

Anglia overhead line renewals – more about the project

Also improving journeys for local passengers, we’ve replaced a railway bridge (pictured below) between London Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness this bank holiday.

Anglia route

Crossrail East

For Crossrail, the first of the 14 switches and crossing panels for track have been installed at Gidea Park, while at Pudding Mill Lane the team has almost completed the installation of signalling cable to connect the Crossrail tunnel signalling system to the Great Eastern Mainline.

The de-wiring of the overhead line equipment at Shenfield (pictured below) was completed as planned on Christmas Day and rewiring of this section starts today (27 December).

Crossrail Project


Track near London St Pancras station is being renewed. Upgrades to the concrete slab that supports the track through Kentish Town are needed to keep the large volume of passenger trains that pass through the area running safely and reliably for years to come.

Between Newcastle and Heaton, nine signal heads have been converted to LEDs for performance and safety. Signals are the traffic lights of the railway.

LNE & EM route


There’s been a lot of work taking place as part of the Great North Rail Project to improve passenger journeys across the north of England.

A £3m project to replace track through platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly station will boost reliability. Platform 13 is open again for trains and travellers, and everything is laid up ready for Platform 14 to be worked on this weekend.

Overhead line equipment near Preston has been rewired and tested.

Preston to Blackpool electrification

Meanwhile, work continues at Liverpool Lime Street station, with the old track removed from platform 6, and work being carried out to extend and renew the platform.

West Midlands

There is intense activity as track renewal/remodelling work takes place at Soho North Junction, a major junction between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. All track is now installed and work now moves to follow up with track alignment and re-installing the overhead electrification equipment.

At the same time, the two Birmingham to Wolverhampton rail routes (via Sandwell & Dudley and via Aston) are seeing new signalling systems brought into use. The signalling system on the route via Aston and Bescot was brought into use on schedule early this morning and now manages an intense service of train diversions while the main route (via Sandwell) remains closed until early on Wednesday 3 January for resignalling and the Soho North track works.

LNW route


The track through platforms 10 and 11 at Edinburgh Waverley has been realigned, and track replaced between Waverley and Haymarket.

Edinburgh Waverley platform extensions

On New Year’s Day, Team Orange will install a new track crossover layout at platforms 10 and 11 to increase flexibility through the station by allowing trains to move between the two lines.

Scotland route

South East



Drainage improvements in the two-mile-long Sevenoaks Tunnel (see video above) have been completed. Poor drainage made it difficult to maintain high track standards: rails degrade faster in wet conditions so need replacing more often, and signalling systems can fail. This work will boost the reliability and comfort of passenger journeys on the route.


A new platform is being built at Redhill, and new track and signalling installed between Redhill and Earlswood, for more reliable passenger journeys (watch the video below). When the project finishes in January, it will increase capacity at Redhill station and provide greater flexibility to train services through the area.

South East route


Thameslink Programme

Work is progressing well at London Bridge station, ready for the entrance opening on 2 January. Work this Christmas will deliver 15 completed platforms, allowing Cannon Street trains to again call at the station, and the entrance on Tooley Street will also open, connecting both sides of the station for the first time.

Elsewhere on the Thameslink Programme, despite heavy overnight rain on Christmas Day, points removal and track installation is complete at the Blackfriars site. The extensive resignalling programme between Blackfriars and New Cross is also underway.

Spotlight on Christmas 2017: Thameslink Programme

The inside track: Working at Christmas – find out from Thameslink Programme’s scheme project manager Ailsa (platform level access) and senior programme engineer David (automatic train operation and ETCS) about the work they’re doing this bank holiday


More than 100 engineers and track staff are working shifts 24 hours a day to replace 6,000 metres of cabling and 200 metres of track near Southampton Central, at Northam Junction.

Currently, the up and down fast lines have been renewed, despite snow falling on site last night. Today the up and down slow lines will be completed, and ballast works will begin tomorrow.

Spotlight on Christmas 2017: Southampton

Wessex route


Team Orange have been upgrading and testing signalling equipment at Oxford and Bristol, with piling work at Oxford to install more signals for greater reliability.

Crossrail West

The largest and most complex signalling data upgrade on the Paddington station approach was successfully completed for Crossrail on Christmas Day. Testing continues, but the connection to the Crossrail tunnels now shows on the signallers screens at Thames Valley Signalling Centre (see pictures below). 

With the final piece of Crossrail track in place, additional teams are working between Old Oak Common and Paddington to install thousands of metres of overhead wire to electrify the new lines connecting the Crossrail depot and tunnels to the Great Western Main Line.

Piling is underway at Acton Main Line and Hayes & Harlington as part of the advanced works on the enhanced stations in the west.

Spotlight on Christmas 2017: Crossrail Project

Western route