Monday 27 Sep 2004


Region & Route:
Scotland’s Railway: Scotland
The new 125mph tilting timetable comes to the West Coast Main Line today, offering passengers a safer, faster and more reliable railway. During the last 18 months alone, an army of engineers has worked over 24 million hours to renew the route between London to Manchester, using enough steel to build the equivalent of nearly five Eiffel towers and six supertankers worth of ballast – a staggering 1.1 million tonnes. First built in the 1830s, the West Coast is the country’s busiest mixed traffic railway, with over 2,000 train movements each day and carrying 43% of the UK’s rail freight. But years of under investment had brought the line, which runs from London through to Glasgow, to the end of its operational life. Now thanks to a £7.6 billion remodernisation programme (with over £5 billion already invested to date), the line has been given a new lease of life, with Network Rail’s project team rebuilding the route, fit for the new high speed tilting trains and all other rail traffic. Tom McCarthy, Programme Director for Network Rail’s West Coast project said: “Monday (27 September) is a major milestone for the project, as it sees the introduction of the new timetable, which will provide faster journey times and in some cases greater frequency for passengers. More importantly, it provides a high quality rail route that requires less maintenance and is of a specification comparable to the best in Europe.” -more- 125 live - 2 The new timetable will bring immediate benefits for thousands of passengers who use Britain’s busiest rail route every day, with journey times reduced by up to half an hour, including London to Manchester in a little over two hours, London to Glasgow in 4hrs 41mins – half an hour faster than today and London to Birmingham in 1hr 21mins  –  20 minutes faster than previously. Milestones achieved on the project since its inception have included: ·        August 2000 – Remodelling Proof House Junction – a major bottleneck at Birmingham ·        August 2001 – The remodelling and resignalling of the Euston area ·        May 2002 – North Staffordshire resignalling project ·        July 2002 – Introduction into passenger service of the class 390 Pendolino ·        October 2003 – Colwich (near Stafford) to Cheadle Hulme (including 71 miles of track) ·        December 2003 – Rugby to Atherstone (near Nuneaton), first stretch available for 125mph running in tilt ·        May 2004 - Crewe to Cheadle Hulme renewal of 40 miles of track ·        June 2004 – New flyover and platforms at Nuneaton ·        September 2004 – Stockport renewals and resignalling ·        June/September 2004 – Watford to Bletchley and Rugby resignalling The project has also seen the introduction of new platforms at Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton to help increase capacity and platform extensions at stations south of Northampton to allow for the operation of 12-carriage trains, supported by track improvements to the commuter lines. Now work on the West Coast focuses north, with track improvements through to Preston and Liverpool by June 2005 and on to Glasgow by December, delivering even faster journey times. Added Tom: “We also have much work left to do over the coming years to further improve capacity.  The work, though not on the scale seen so far, is vital and includes track and signalling works at Nuneaton, the remodelling of the layout through Rugby, the four tracking of the Trent Valley and the upgrade of the route’s power supply.”

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - Scotland
0141 555 4109

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: