Monday 1 Sep 2003


Region & Route:
Passengers can now expect a better railway at the southern end of the West Coast Main Line, after engineers successfully upgraded a key section of the busy rail route. More than 200 people from a team comprising of Network Rail, Balfour Beatty and Westinghouse Rail Systems Ltd, worked around the clock from 23 August to the early hours of this morning (1 September) to commission the eight new crossovers at Ledburn Junction, between Hemel Hempstead and Milton Keynes, handing back the railway before the original schedule of 03.00. At the same time, the project team also installed a further six new crossovers at Bourne End, just 10 miles from Ledburn, in addition to two installed at Easter this year.  All eight are scheduled to be brought into operation next year. A comprehensive alternative travel service also ensured passengers were able to complete their journeys during the works, keeping disruption to a minimum. Commented West Coast Project Director James Martin: “By implementing a high quality coach and bus operation between Milton Keynes, Hemel Hempstead and other affected areas, we were able to ensure rail passengers could still get to their destinations.  Other alternatives were also available to long distance passengers, such as the new London St Pancras to Manchester Piccadilly service via the East Midlands which is proving to be a reliable and well used alternative.” - more - Ledburn - 2 But what benefits will the new equipment at Ledburn and Bourne End actually mean for the passenger?  James Martin explains. “Crossovers actually allow a train to pass from one section of track to another.  The new crossovers at Ledburn, which are each around 150 metres in length and have to be specially manufactured, now enable us to provide a safer, faster and more reliable railway, with increased linespeeds and operational flexibility at this location.” The linespeed of the new crossovers themselves has been increased from the original 25mph to 60mph, with the industry now better able to run both commuter and express trains, interspersed with maintenance works on the route in the future.  During the works, the project team also installed new track and signalling and overhead line equipment, completing in nine days what took 18 weekends to complete last year.  Engineers also carried out major works on the lines from Bletchley to Rugby and Bletchley to Northampton, including major improvement works to a rail over road bridge at Berkhamsted (see below for further details).             In addition to the Ledburn/Bourne End works, Network Rail also successfully completed works to renew ageing signalling equipment between Manchester Piccadilly and Stockport, with final testing and commissioning of the equipment scheduled to take place during Christmas 2003.

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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.

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.

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