Monday 6 Nov 2006

MAJOR RAIL INVESTMENT CONTINUES IN THE WEST COUNTRY

Region & Route:
| Wales & Western: Wales & Borders
| Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western
Passengers using the railway between Highbridge & Burnham and Taunton are set to benefit from a £750 million investment by Network Rail, which will improve train performance and reliability across the Western Route. Network Rail will renew miles of track between Highbridge & Burnham and Bridgwater as part of an extensive renewals programme to improve train services between London Paddington and the West Country.  This important work will require the closure of the line between Highbridge & Burnham and Taunton from Monday 20 November to Friday 8 December. Robbie Burns, Network Rail’s Western Route Director, said: “A large percentage of the rail track between London Paddington and the West Country dates from the 1960s and 1970s – this must be renewed if we are to deliver the best possible service for passengers.  “We know that disruption is always unwelcome, but this huge investment will improve the performance of the railway in the area and bring benefits to passengers across the West Country for years to come.” Network Rail has worked closely with train operators First Great Western and Virgin CrossCountry to put in place an amended timetable designed to keep disruption to a minimum.  First Great Western local train services will be replaced by bus services between Weston-super-Mare and Taunton for the duration of the works, also serving Highbridge & Burnham Station and Bridgwater Station.  Rail passengers travelling between Taunton and Bristol are advised to use Virgin CrossCountry train services, which will be diverted via Westbury and Bath Spa. Andrew Griffiths, First Great Western’s Regional Manager, said: “We welcome this major engineering project because it will improve the performance and reliability of the railway in the future.  “We know that our customers need plenty of advance information about service disruption of this sort and we will publicise this work through station posters, our website, e-mail bulletins and the media.  Full details of the revised train times will be available from National Rail Enquiries or our own web site and we will publish our usual fully comprehensive timetable booklet, available from stations.” Chris Gibb, Virgin CrossCountry’s Managing Director, said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with Network Rail on this major engineering investment scheme from which our customers will benefit significantly.  We shall be working hard to ensure that they encounter the least possible disruption during the course of the work, but extended journey times are regrettably unavoidable." Customers are advised to always check journey details before travelling by contacting National Rail Enquiries on 08457 484950 or by checking the website www.nationalrail.co.uk.

Notes to editors

Bristol Temple Meads – Taunton (weekend closure) The line will also be closed between Bristol Temple Meads and Taunton on the weekends of: 18/19 November 25/26 November 2/3 December 9/10 December 16/17 December This is to allow further works, including renewing the track at Highbridge & Burnham, and renewing switches and crossings at Bedminster. During this closure, Virgin CrossCountry services will be diverted via Westbury and Bath Spa, with journey times increased by one hour. Virgin CrossCountry services to and from Plymouth/Penzance will be diverted via Bath Spa, with those normally running to and from Paignton starting from and terminating at Bristol Temple Meads First Great Western will run replacement bus services between Weston-super-Mare and Taunton The line between Bristol Temple Meads and Taunton will be running as normal between: 05:35 and 10:00 on each Monday between 20 November and 4 December 14:00 and 00:30 on each Friday between 24 November and 8 December

Contact information

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

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Journalists
Network Rail press office -Western route
07730 354394
MediaRelationsWestern@networkrail.co.uk

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.

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