Friday 12 Dec 2003


Region & Route:
Network Rail’s West Coast project has reached a key milestone, with the first section of the route completed for the new tilting trains to run at 125mph. The change also heralds the gradual introduction of the new high speed railway, culminating in the arrival of the 125mph timetable in September 2004 which will provide improved journey times and increased reliability. Running between Rugby and Atherstone on the Lichfield Trent valley section of the West Coast, the 20 mile stretch became the first section of track capable of running trains at 125mph whilst in full tilt mode. The West Coast project team have undertaken a huge amount of work to make this achievement possible – an achievement that ultimately will deliver faster, more frequent journeys for passengers, including Manchester to London in two hours and London to Glasgow in just over four and a half hours.  The team has had to realign and replace the trackpoints and overhead wires, setting them with much higher tolerances than on the conventional system.  There have also been a myriad of additional engineering works to ensure the railway is ready.  This work  included: ·            2,754 composite yards of track renewals (track, sleepers, ballast) ·            The renewal of 15 switches and crossings (sets of points) ·            The renewal of 2,500 yards of overhead line equipment (OLE)                                                                                                                     125 railway-2 ·            13 major moves of OLE gantries                                                                        ·            The installation of 34 TASS (Tilt Authorisation Speed Supervision) balises - the system which electronically permits the train to tilt                                                                                                     Working to a strategy developed by the rail industry under the leadership of the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), Network Rail will during the coming months introduce further sections of track to 125mph tilt running, with the full introduction of the new 125mph timetable in September 2004. Commented Network Rail’s West Coast Project Director James Martin: “This is a real achievement for all associated with the project and is timely physical evidence that we are on course for delivering a 125mph railway with tilt by September 2004. “It is also a demonstration of the quality of infrastructure that we are now building, providing standards equal to those on the continent and helping to secure the future of this vital European rail artery.” Other sites scheduled to open at 125mph with tilt in the very near future include the line from Rugby through to Hanslope Junction, north of Milton Keynes, and the Colwich Junction to Cheadle Hulme route via Stoke – the recipient of a £200 million renewals programme in the summer.  This included the installation of 71 miles of track, improvement works to 58 structures, plus the electrification of the Crewe to Kidsgrove line - carrying diversionary traffic during the Crewe to Norton Bridge works, which are currently taking place.

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