New benefits for rail passengers as 260 projects, worth over £160m, finish on time: London Bridge Jan 1

Tuesday 2 Jan 2018

New benefits for rail passengers as 260 projects, worth over £160m, finish on time

  • Today marks full opening of London Bridge station to the public
  • Faster journeys and more reliability for millions of passengers who use the network daily

Over the festive period more than 260 projects, valued at over £160m, were delivered across Britain. Thousands of new services and trains will soon start to come into operation this year as a result of this Christmas investment programme – bringing faster journeys, more comfort and greater reliability to the 4.5m passengers who typically use the rail network daily.

Projects delivered over the festive period include the completion of the £1bn transformation of London Bridge station which sees 54 million passengers travelling through each year. The new look station opened to the public today – the first time it has been fully open since 2012.

The concourse is now bigger than the pitch at Wembley Stadium with new retail and station facilities and two-thirds more space for passengers. From 2019, 24 trains per hour will be able to run at peak times through the central London core, and the station will have the ability to cope with 96m people. And from today, SouthEastern services to and from Cannon Street will call at the station again, having not stopped there since 2016.

Outside of London, signalling equipment which was over 50 years old was also replaced between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, meaning more reliable journeys for passengers across the West Midlands. The £246m scheme is part of a wider £600m+ programme to upgrade signalling across the region.

As part of the Great North Rail Project, work also took place in preparation for the opening of the new platform 8 at Liverpool Lime Street and other platforms were remodelled to allow for longer trains which can carry more passengers and relieve congestion for commuters. 

And in Edinburgh, platforms have been improved at Waverly and old track has been replaced between there and Haymarket which will improve reliability on this busy stretch. Once completed, the work between Edinburgh and Glasgow will increase on-train passenger capacity and reduce journey times by around 10 minutes between the two cities.

Passengers in Berkshire and Oxfordshire will benefit from more seats and better journeys as the electrification on the Great Western mainline between Maidenhead and Didcot, was delivered early. This means Great Western Railway will be able to run new trains from today. There will be an extra 4,800 seats into and out of London Paddington during the morning peak (between 0700 and 0959), a 10% increase compared to January 2017.

A number of major upgrades were carried out by Network Rail on the Great Eastern main line to Norwich out of London Liverpool Street, and on the lines out of London Paddington in preparation for the arrival of the new Elizabeth line services.  

The Crossrail project is now over 85% complete and will provide new trains, better stations and quicker, easier, more reliable journeys for passengers travelling east to west once the Elizabeth line opens in December this year. 

Many more projects saw new bridges built, remodelling of platforms to allow for longer trains, miles of new track installed and state of the art new signalling equipment brought online.

More than 32,000 rail workers helped to deliver the successful ten day investment programme that will improve journeys for hundreds of thousands of passengers and businesses.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said:

“We’d like to thank passengers for their understanding over the festive period while we worked to deliver our Railway Upgrade Plan and continue to improve both the capacity and reliability of our railway.

“Mega-projects like this at London Bridge, as well as hundreds of smaller projects across the country will bring real benefits to millions of passengers. We have been working tirelessly across the Christmas break to deliver these improvements and I am pleased that passengers will begin to see the benefits they will bring.”

While much of the country celebrated with friends and family, Network Rail’s dedicated teams, and those of its partner contractors, worked more than 500,000 hours over the festive period when rail travel is quietest to make significant headway on improvement projects – large and small - across the network. 

Contact information

Passengers / community members
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Network Rail press office - Donna Mitchell
Media Relations Manager
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About Network Rail

Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.

About the Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:

  • longer, faster more frequent trains;
  • better, more reliable infrastructure; and
  • better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

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