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Acton Grange upgrade: in numbers

We’ve just reopened the railway at Acton Grange junction near Warrington after a major 16-day upgrade.

Trains are running through the junction again, on a more reliable railway on the West Coast Main Line – Europe’s busiest mix-use railway.

It involved improvements to track, cabling, overhead line equipment and signalling, bringing outdated infrastructure up to modern standards.

Acton Grange junction – before and after:

The vital upgrade, which ended on the night of Sunday 4 August, has brought outdated track and equipment up to modern standards.

During the work, many trains were rerouted, the rail industry having agreed to keep passengers and freight trains moving throughout the upgrade as much as possible.

Here’s a rundown of the project in numbers


The value of the investment in the Acton Grange junction upgrade. It’s part of the broader Great North Rail Project (GNRP) – our plan to stimulate economic growth in the north of England through better connections between towns and cities.

By 2022 the GNRP, part of Britain’s Railway Upgrade Plan, will have delivered a multi-billion pound package of improvements for customers across the north of England.

It will enable 2,000 extra services each week and allow 40,000 more passengers to travel each day – more trains with more seats, running more quickly and more reliably.

Take a bird’s eye view of the scale of the Acton Grange work:


The approximate number of trains that use the junction every day, making it even more important to carry out the project – the biggest upgrade to Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway line this year.

Here’s a time lapse of the final weekend:

Almost 500

The number of people who worked on the renewals every day, with 130 on-site staff each working three shifts a day. In total, they worked almost 70,000 hours.

The project came at a challenging time weather-wise – our teams continued to work through the UK’s hottest July day on record.

Despite the extreme heat, workers installed new track across the junction, in full personal protection equipment (PPE) – the orange uniforms you’ll recognise on trackside staff.

Just days later, torrential rain and thunderstorms hit Britain, causing landslips in the North of England. At Acton Grange, our teams pressed ahead to complete the upgrade on time.


The number of extra line closure days we avoided by bringing forward other engineering work to coincide with the Acton Grange junction project.

Teams upgraded 4km of track and 2km of drainage through nearby Sutton tunnel. We also removed a track crossing near Runcorn East station.

This saved a further 13-day closure of the West Coast Main Line and improved safety and reliability of these well-used sections of track.

Inside Sutton tunnel:


We have an impressive fleet of state-of-the-art engineering trains and 22 of them worked at Acton Grange:

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