Passengers returning to work today (2 January) are benefiting from more reliable infrastructure, improved facilities and services after a £148m Christmas programme of investment across the network successfully completed on-time today.

Across the country passengers will begin to experience the benefits of this investment. Signalling upgrades in Merseyside will mean more reliable journeys. The track renewal at Holloway will improve reliability of services into King’s Cross. The renewed overhead wiring system at Forest Gate junction – first installed in the 1950s – will prevent frequent failures that currently cause delays into Liverpool Street.

A 25,000-strong workforce, from engineers and track layers to project managers and station staff, worked more than 380,000 hours to keep the railway open and deliver 330 projects across Britain.

The work was completed at the quietest time for rail travel on the country’s railway with around half the normal number of passengers travelling compared to the 4.7 million who typically use the network daily.

This year’s work saw new bridges built, miles of new track installed and state of the art new signalling equipment brought online.

Major projects undertaken this Christmas:

  • Replacing old switches and crossings – the moveable sections of track that guide trains from one track to another – with new kit and making changes to the track layout between Bedford and Kettering as part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade
  • Installing new track at Heathrow Airport junction to improve reliability
  • Signalling upgrades as part of the Weaver to Wavertree resignalling project in Merseyside, to enable more reliable journeys and boost capacity in the area. Signalling areas in Allerton, Speke and Garston were recontrolled to the Manchester Rail Operating Centre over the festive period

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “Over Christmas and New Year thousands of rail workers have been working round the clock to keep the railway running and to deliver crucial improvements to the network as part of the £50bn railway upgrade plan.

“Our decision to do work at this time of year is entirely based on the fact that many regular passengers take this time as holiday, so it causes disruption to the smallest number of people. We really appreciate the patience of those who have been affected by this essential work, which will lead to better and more reliable train services.”


Notes to editors

The festive period in numbers:

  • £148m spent on improving the railway for passengers
  • 330 projects undertaken on the railway over the festive period
  • 25,000 railway staff worked over 380,000 hours

More images from the work carried out across the country are available from the Network Rail press office.