More reliable journeys after major 16-day overhaul of Acton Grange junction on the West Coast main line completed

The railway reopened across a busy junction on the West Coast main line on Monday 5 August after a major £27m renewal.

Between Saturday 20 July and Sunday 4 August, Network Rail engineers worked to upgrade track, cabling, overhead lines and signalling across Acton Grange junction, as part of the Great North Rail Project.

Acton Grange is a key section of the West Coast main line between Crewe and Preston. It helps connect Chester and Warrington to Manchester in the East and Wigan, Preston, the Lake District and Scotland to the West Midlands and London. It's used by over 260 trains every day.

The vital upgrades to the junction have brought the outdated track and equipment to modern standards and further improved the reliability of the economically important West Coast main line.

While the work took place, many trains were diverted onto different lines. This plan was agreed by the rail industry to keep passengers and goods moving.

Key stats on Acton Grange junction renewal:

  • Total work time to replace the junction was 69,120 hours
  • Nearly 500 people each day worked on the project
  • All four railway lines, overhead electric cables, signalling equipment and unique ‘double diamond’ crossing system have been ripped out and replaced to modern standards
  • 1133 yards of track was renewed
  • 3,200 tonnes of track foundation stone was replaced
  • 22 engineering trains were used
  • 48 switches and crossing panels (that allow trains to move from one track to another) were installed.

Making the most of the closure

£9m was also invested to upgrade 4000m of track and 2000m drainage through Sutton Tunnel, in Frodsham and remove a track crossing near Runcorn East station.

This work was brought forward to be delivered while the line was closed for Acton Grange upgrades. If not delivered at the same time, this work would have required an additional 13-day closure on the line.

This vital work will improve safety and reliability of these well-used sections of track.