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Why we carry out engineering works over bank holidays

We’re frequently asked why we schedule big engineering projects for bank holiday weekends.

We plan these large-scale works for certain times so they cause the least disruption to your journeys. These include bank holidays, Sundays and overnight. 

Trains run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so there’s never a convenient time to close the railway for maintenance and upgrades and works can cause some disruption to services. But far more people typically need to take the train on a normal weekday.

We appreciate delays and line closures are frustrating and we do everything we can to reduce the impact of our works on your services. Thank you for bearing with us.

Watch this video to find out more:

Planning in fine detail

We plan many of our engineering projects far in advance – in some cases, up to five years for the large bank holiday works.

We do this because we need to …

  • Agree access to the railway with passenger train and freight train operating companies – and give them ample time to plan their services and minimise disruption to passengers and freight. For example, we must ensure there’s always a route up to Scotland and across to Wales.
  • Make sure we have the right people available at hundreds of sites all over the country.
  • Allocate equipment such as cranes and wagons, which are always in high demand. Our Route Services department, which organises materials and certain services for our separate routes, makes sure our equipment is used efficiently across Britain.
Specialist yellow machinery on the railway tracks, dusk
Our bank holiday engineering works take up to five years of planning
  • Ensure separate engineering projects don’t conflict with each other because this could cause too much disruption to you or freight.
  • Schedule enough time to complete large pieces of work, including contingency time at the end of our projects in case we run into delays.

How we’re reducing the time planned works take

We’re always investing in new machinery and processes to speed up our planned works while maintaining high levels of safety for workers and passengers on our railway.

For example, our High Output teams replace tracks overnight using an efficient track relaying system. Significantly reducing the time the work takes reduces disruption to your journeys.

In addition, engineering innovations mean trains can often now run on the line at full speed straight after track renewal work. This means fewer delays to timetables caused by slow trains, and better journey times for you. Track renewal typically requires a temporary speed restriction on the line for a week after the work is finished, so the ballast – the stones beneath the track – can settle. Now, improvements in technology create a strong foundation straight away, so this isn’t necessary.

Read more:

Delays demystified – planned engineering works

Video: Delays explained – landslips

Delays explained – overhead line equipment

Delays explained: bridge strikes

Delays explained: signals

Delays explained: why we can’t run trains during repairs

Broken rail explained

Track circuits explained

Knock-on delays

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