People travelling across the North West and further afield are being advised to plan ahead with Network Rail’s busy period of Christmas engineering work just a fortnight away.
Over the festive period, Network Rail is carrying out essential improvement and maintenance work on key projects in Manchester and Liverpool, as part of the Great North Rail Project.
As part of the national Railway Upgrade Plan, a 25,000-strong workforce will be working across Britain to carry out more than £148m of vital work between Christmas Eve and 3 January.
Overall there will be less disruption for rail users on the London North Western route this year compared to last. Most of the investment work between Euston and Carlisle has been scheduled for when no trains will run on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
However, passengers should check www.nationalrail.co.uk to plan their journey and for the latest information before travelling this Christmas.
On Merseyside, that involves major infrastructure improvements as part of the multi-million-pound Liverpool City Region investment, including:
- Signalling upgrades as part of the Weaver to Wavertree resignalling project: between 9.15pm on Monday 24 December and 12.30am on Wednesday 2 January. Signalling areas in Allerton, Speke and Garston are being recontrolled to the Manchester Rail Operating Centre. The upgrades will enable more reliable journeys and boost capacity in the area. During the work rail replacement buses will run between Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway. It will also mean changes to some services to/from Liverpool Lime Street.
- Remodelling of station platforms and track: at James Street, Hamilton Square, Conway Park and Birkenhead Park on the Merseyrail network. This will prepare the Merseyrail stations for the arrival of their new, state-of-the-art trains from 2020 – in particular, making sure that the new trains’ sliding step can meet the platform edge. The work will involve station and line closures, but rail replacement buses will be in operation between Thursday 27 December and Thursday 3 January.
In Greater Manchester work will progress on the Great North Rail Project electrification upgrade, including:
- Boosting of electrical feeds between Ordsall and Stalybridge: work to install an additional electrical feed which will provide extra resilience to power electric trains in the North West in 2019.
- Overhead wire installation at Manchester Victoria: overhead wires will be installed on the eastern lines outside Manchester Victoria station impacting some services during the work.
- Tunnel cabling work in Ashton-under-Lyne: preparation work will be carried out in the Katherine Street tunnel to enable lineside cables to be laid.
- Lineside drainage improvements: work will be carried out to upgrade drainage near Ashton-under-Lyne station.
In the Greater Manchester area this work is vital to ensure faster, greener, new electric trains can be welcomed onto the network next year. The improvements are taking place between 11pm on Christmas Eve and 6pm on New Year’s Day, but the railway isn’t entirely closed during this time. Passengers are being advised to check before they travel to see how this essential work may impact on journeys.
Martin Frobisher, London North Western route managing director, said: “The railway is traditionally much quieter than usual during the festive period so taking on and delivering these bigger pieces of work at this time, as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, means we will cause the least inconvenience to the fewest number of people.
“While the majority of the network is open as usual, some routes will be affected so I would urge passengers to plan their journeys and check before they travel for the latest information.”
On the West Coast main line and wider railway between the north west, West Midlands and London, more important railway improvements will also be taking place during the Christmas break, including:
- Track renewal at Milton Keynes Central station: between 9pm on Sunday 23 December and 6am on Friday 28 December. This will mean slightly longer journey times between the West Midlands and London Euston.
- Lineside drainage improvements near Hampton-in-Arden: from 9pm on Christmas Eve and 6am on Thursday 27 December on the line between Birmingham International, Coventry and Rugby.
- Preparation work for HS2 at London Euston: preparatory work will take place in sidings, some lines north of Euston in the Camden area, and on some platforms at Euston station over the Christmas period. Work includes cable laying, removal/installation of overhead line steelwork, and drainage improvement.
The upgrade work on the Great North Rail Project and wider London North Western route is part of Network Rail’s £50 billion five-year Railway Upgrade Plan, which is the biggest investment in the railway since Victorian times.
In some parts of the country, work will begin on Sunday 23 December this year to give engineers three clear days to make uninterrupted progress on vital projects.
Find out more about Merseyrail projects: www.merseytravel.gov.uk/itshappening.
Find out more about projects in the Liverpool City Region: www.networkrail.co.uk/lcr.
For the latest travel information visit: www.nationalrail.co.uk.