Network Rail is warning passengers of major changes to train journeys in the North West and Cumbria over the Easter and early May bank holiday weekends.
With just 10 days until the work begins on Good Friday, people are being advised to plan ahead and check the best days to travel as engineers carry out essential planned work on the West Coast main line.
Major track upgrades will be taking place on the railway north of Lancaster, as well as upgrades to overhead electric lines in Warrington and ongoing work to electrify the railway between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge.
Euston station will be closed over the Easter weekend (19-22 April) and the early May bank holiday weekend (4-6 May) with no trains in or out of the main line station on those days.
This will have a major impact on journeys including alternative routes, longer travel times and busier trains than normal.
Network Rail and the wider industry has been running an awareness campaign since early February warning train customers of the impacts of Railway Upgrade Plan work both weekends.
Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “We recognise there is never an ideal time to shut the railway for our must-do work. Bank holidays are the least disruptive time to do it, when fewer passengers use the railway compared to the working week. That way we can do the maximum amount of work while impacting the fewest number of people.
“Train companies and Network Rail have worked together to minimise disruption for customers by doing a lot of work over the Easter and early May bank holidays. The alternative would have been closing the line and Euston station over multiple weekends throughout the summer.”
Passengers are being advised to plan their journeys at www.nationalrail.co.uk between 19-22 April and 4-6 May, when:
- Euston station will be closed to main line train services
- Sections of the West Coast main line will be closed between London Euston and Rugby, and Merseyside and Cumbria
- The best time to travel will be on days before and after the bank holiday weekends
Where the line is open trains will be running but customers will have longer journeys, fewer available seats, and may need to use rail replacement buses.
Martin added: “The purpose of our essential maintenance and upgrade work is to keep the railway safe and reliable for the hundreds of thousands of passengers who use it every week. To ensure they know what to expect, I would urge passengers to plan journeys in advance and to check the best days to travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk and with their train operators.”
Robert Nisbet, regional director for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the railway, said: “Train companies and Network Rail are working together to make big improvements to today’s railway to add more services, improve punctuality and make journeys better. There’s never a good time to carry out vital engineering work but fewer people travel on bank holidays than on a normal weekday. We’d encourage people to check before they travel by visiting National Rail Enquiries or speaking to their train operator.”
Peter Broadley, executive director for customer, operations and safety at Virgin Trains, said: “With no services into or out of Euston we strongly advise our customers to avoid travelling to and from London on the days affected. We know this will impact on people’s travel plans, so to make it easier we have removed afternoon peak time ticket restrictions from London on Maundy Thursday to allow customers to make an earlier start to their Easter weekend.”
Passengers can plan their journeys and check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk.
Notes to editors:
Work at Easter between Good Friday (19 April) to Easter Monday (22 April)
Best days to travel: Thursday 18 April and Tuesday 23 April.
Work on the West Coast main line between Runcorn, Carlisle and Glasgow includes:
- Railway track being replaced at Golborne near Wigan
- Renewal of overhead electric lines at Acton Grange in Warrington
- Bridge renovation and strengthening at Coppull Moor Lane in Chorley
- Work to improve points and rail replacement at Milnthorpe in South Lakeland
- Track foundation improvements and work to overhead electric lines at Carnforth
- Track foundation improvements at Upperby in Carlisle
Work on Merseyside and in Greater Manchester includes:
- Merseyrail platform upgrades: between Sunday 7 April and Tuesday 23 April, station platforms and track will be remodelled between Bidston to West Kirby on the Merseyrail network to prepare for the arrival of new, state-of-the-art trains in 2020.
- Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge: continuing work on the electrification project between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge, with work to install telecommunications cabling and overhead line work taking place between Saturday 20 and Easter Monday.
Work on the West Coast main line between London Euston, Rugby, Milton Keynes and Birmingham International includes:
- Primrose Hill tunnel strengthening
- Preparation for HS2, Britain’s new high-speed railway
- Work to improve points at Willesden Junction
- Track foundation improvements between High Wycombe and Leighton Buzzard
- Maintenance work to Bletchley railway flyover
- Preparation for the future East West Rail link between Bicester and Bedford
- Track renewal between Till Hill and Canley near Coventry
Look ahead to early May bank holiday engineering work: Saturday 4 May to Monday 6 May
Best days to travel: Thursday 3 May and Tuesday 7 May
Some of the work carried out at Easter will need to be continued between Saturday 4 and Monday 6 May.
Passengers are being advised to plan ahead and check the best days to travel when this essential planned work takes place on the West Coast main line.
This will have a major impact including alternative routes, longer journey times and less chance of a seat.
Over the bank holiday weekend:
- The West Coast main line will be closed between Crewe and Carlisle. Multiple projects will be taking place including track and overhead line maintenance and track renewal between Crewe and Carlisle.
- Euston station will be closed to main line train services as work takes place to prepare for HS2, Britain’s new high-speed railway.
- Track will be replaced between Willesden and Watford, and track maintenance carried out in the Milton Keynes area.
To plan journeys and for the latest travel information visit: www.nationalrail.co.uk/westcoast