Between 20 July and 4 August, Network Rail will be upgrading track, cabling, overhead lines and signalling on the busy Acton Grange junction, which is used by more than 260 trains every day.

Nearly 500 people will work on the project every day in the biggest upgrade to Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway line (passengers and freight) this year.

While the £27 million Great North Rail Project scheme takes place, many train services will be diverted via alternative routes.

Train operators and Network Rail have agreed a plan to keep passengers moving throughout the work.

The plan may mean passengers have to change onto different trains or buses for sections of their journeys.

Passengers are being urged to check www.nationalrail.co.uk before travelling so they know exactly what to expect.

They are also advised to allow more time for their journeys as services are likely to be busier than usual.

David Golding, acting route managing director, said: “The West Coast main line is Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway. It is the economic backbone of Britain.

“With more than 260 trains using this junction every day, it is vital to keep it in good condition. We need to replace it and upgrade it to ensure a reliable railway for passengers for many years to come.

“To deliver work of this scale and magnitude, we must close the junction for 16 days this summer. The alternative would be many weekends of disruption to passengers and much higher cost.

“We have worked closely with our train and freight operator colleagues to minimise the disruption and to keep as many trains moving as possible. I would urge passengers to plan ahead and check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk.”

Robert Nisbet, regional director for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the railway, said: “This vital engineering work is part of the rail industry’s plan to improve punctuality and make journeys better while keeping disruption to a minimum as much as we can.

“We encourage people who are planning to take the train during these weeks to check before they travel by visiting www.nationalrail.co.uk or speaking to their train operator.”

This section of the West Coast main line helps connect Chester and Warrington to Manchester in the east and Wigan, Preston, the Lake District and Scotland to the West Midlands and London.

The vital upgrade this summer will bring the outdated track and equipment up to modern standards and further improve the reliability of the economically important West Coast main line.

For more information on the work and impact visit www.networkrail.co.uk/WCMLActonGrange

Key facts on Acton Grange junction renewal which starts this weekend:

  • This is a £27m investment as part of the Great North Rail Project
  • The junction will be closed for 16 days (July 20 – August 4)
  • 260 trains use Acton Grange junction each day
  • The West Coast main line is Europe's busiest mixed-use railway line (passengers and freight)
  • Nearly 500 people each day will work carrying out the renewal
  • Total work time to replace the junction will be 69,120 hours
  • All four railway lines, overhead electric cables, signalling equipment and unique ‘double diamond’ crossing system will be ripped out and replaced to modern standards
  • 3,200 tonnes of track foundation stone will be replaced
  • 22 engineering trains will be needed

Why is Network Rail carrying out this work:

  • This is a must-do £27m replacement of an old junction on Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway used by 260 trains every day
  • The purpose is to keep the railway safe and reliable for train passengers and freight carriers for years to come
  • We’ve had to close the junction for this extended amount of time because we are removing all four tracks, signalling, cabling and overhead lines and this can’t be done overnight or over a weekend

Our advice to passengers:

We are asking people to plan their journeys at nationalrail.co.uk for the most up-to-date information and allow extra time to travel.

Tens of thousands of people’s journeys will be affected while this major upgrade takes place and our advice is to check National Rail Enquiries which will give tailored information on how each person’s journey could be impacted.

Passengers can expect diversions, may need to use rail replacement buses, and journey times will be longer.

We’ve been working over the past two years to plan the major upgrade. We have also been in collaboration with train and freight operators over the last six months to build a robust transport plan to keep passengers and goods moving throughout the essential upgrade work.