Tuesday 6 Dec 2005


Region & Route:
Scotland’s Railway: Scotland
• Journey times cut by over 40 minutes • Maximum speed increased from 110mph to 125mph Network Rail today announced the completion of the next stage of the vital upgrade work on the West Coast Main Line. Virgin’s tilting Pendolino trains will now be able to travel at up to 125mph, for the entire London to Glasgow route from 12 December 2005. This major milestone in the £8bn upgrade of Europe’s busiest mixed use railway is a major achievement for Network Rail, owner and operator of the UK’s railway infrastructure, and is indicative of the major turnaround since the project was re-scoped in 2002. This is the third major milestone to be hit on time and on budget as the industry has worked together to deliver a railway of which Britain can be proud. Journey times along the entire route have been significantly reduced:
  • London to Glasgow now takes under four and a half hours, down from more than five hours
  • London to Manchester takes just over two hours, cutting travel times by 23% since 18 months ago
  The performance and reliability of the infrastructure have already shown massive improvements for passengers, with a 55% reduction in delays this year on the busiest section of the line south of Birmingham. Almost 1,000 miles of track have been re-laid in three years along a route that, before the improvement programme began, had been starved of investment for decades.  Since 2002, more than 10,000 people have been working on the upgrade every single weekend. Between them, more than 60 million hours have been worked. John Armitt, Network Rail’s Chief Executive, said: “The completion of this major piece of engineering work is more evidence that Network Rail can consistently deliver the largest scale projects on time and on budget. “Most importantly, passengers are now starting to reap the benefits of all the nights, weekends and holidays that our engineers have worked over the past few years. We now have a railway that rivals the airlines on city centre to city centre journey times. It is an achievement of which we can be truly proud.” Hugh Wark, Director for the West Coast project in Scotland, added: “The completion of this work in Scotland is a major achievement for Network Rail and an important milestone for the upgrade of the West Coast. Our teams have worked around the clock to finish the work on schedule, now it’s time for passengers to enjoy the benefits of travelling on the upgraded route, with faster and more reliable journeys.” The first stage in the West Coast Main Line improvement programme, delivered in September 2004, was an upgrade to the section between London and Manchester, enabling trains to travel at up to 125 mph.  In June this year the second section of works between Crewe, Preston and Liverpool was completed. This week saw the final sections of work completed in Scotland and the North West to allow 125mph running. A new timetable reflecting all the work done along the route in recent months will be introduced next week. The project now moves into a new phase that will see a number of major projects along the route deliver further journey time savings and increased line capacity by 2008. These include: a £300m scheme to double the number of track through the Trent Valley; a £190m project at Rugby to relay the tracks and rebuild the station; and a £200m project in the North West between Sandbach and Wilmslow to replace the signalling system.

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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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