25,000 volt overhead electric line overhaul for better passenger journeys: OLE work Preston Sat 1 August 2020 2

Monday 3 Aug 2020

25,000 volt overhead electric line overhaul for better passenger journeys

Region & Route:
North West & Central
| North West & Central: North West

Passenger and freight journeys are being made more reliable in Lancashire and Cumbria with a multi-million-pound investment into the overhead 25,000 volt electric cables which power trains.

The £3.4m Great North Rail Project upgrade will make overhead line equipment (OLE) more resilient on the West Coast main line between Preston and Carlisle.

The essential work will make journeys more reliable for passengers and freight customers after previous delays on this economically important railway route.

Watch video: how Network Rail maintains overhead electric lines

Specialist engineers will deliver 60 projects to improve the overhead lines over most weekends between now and March next year.

The jobs include thousands of component replacements undertaken overnight while trains aren’t running to minimise disruption to passengers.

Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: “This major £3.4m investment of the overhead line equipment is an important upgrade to improve reliability for our passengers, and train and freight operating companies on the West Coast main line in Lancashire and Cumbria.

“Putting passengers first, we’ve brought in a specialist team that will work in the early hours of Sunday morning to get our overhead line equipment back into shape.

“This work as part of the Great North rail Project will improve the reliability of the West Coast main line to encourage tourists, holiday-makers, commuters and business people back on to the railway.”

Gus Dunster, executive director of operations at Avanti West Coast, said: “We know how important punctual and reliable journeys are to our customers, which is why we welcome Network Rail’s work to improve overhead line equipment between Preston and Carlisle. The work will help to make journeys for millions of customers in Lancashire and Cumbria more reliable for many years to come.”

Kathryn O’Brien, customer experience director for TransPennine Express, said: “It is great to see the investment that Network Rail is putting into the overhead line equipment on the West Coast Mainline and we’d like to thank them for their hard work. The section of line between Preston and Carlisle is very well used and this project will definitely benefit our customers who travel between the North West of England and Scotland .”

A new generation of engineers will also be trained on how to operate and repair the overhead line equipment.

This will secure the long-term expertise of Network Rail’s West Coast main line maintenance teams.

The project has been carefully planned to take place when trains aren’t running. This will prevent disruption to passenger and freight journeys on one of Europe’s busiest mixed-used passenger and freight railway routes.

For more information on how we maintain our overhead electric lines click here: www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/

Notes to Editors

Overhead line equipment (OLE) refers to the overhead wires and supporting infrastructure that carry electricity at 25,000 volts to power electric trains.

The work involves:

  • Replacing tension and balance equipment that keeps the overhead line electrical cables in place.
  • Renewing sections of wire worn out by high numbers of passenger and freight trains that use the West Coast main line.
  • Removing of any weak areas or faults on the overhead line that have not been detected from track patrols and helicopter monitoring.
  • Installing insulation equipment underneath Network Rail bridges to make cables more resilient to damage from bird strikes.

Contact information

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

Latest travel advice
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Network Rail press office - North West & Central Region
07740 782954

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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.

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