Friday 10 Sep 2004

PHOTOCALL: HENRIETTA, DUCHESS OF BEDFORD OFFICIALLY OPENS THE NEW MARSTON VALE SIGNALLING CONTROL CENTRE AT RIDGMONT

Route:
London North Eastern & East Midlands
Date:                          Friday 17 September 2004 Time:                         9.45am at Bletchley or 10.45am at Bedford                                     Meet at Bletchley station to take the 10.17am train to Bedford. Returning on the 11.12am train to Ridgmont. Event:                         Henrietta Duchess of Bedford will formally open the new Marston Vale signalling control centre at Ridgmont.  £35 million has been invested in the Bedford to Bletchley line replacing a century-old signalling system. Media contacts:        Jenny Sacre 020 7557 8107 jenny.sacre@networkrail.co.uk                                     Graham Bashford 020 7427 2810 graham.bashford@silverlink-trains.com A £35 million resignalling scheme by Network Rail has brought the Marston Vale railway line into the 21st century.  The line, which runs between Bedford and Bletchley, had been operating with century-old equipment. But, after a six-week closure the line now has a brand new signalling system with state-of-the-art equipment. This modernised system will bring performance, safety and reliability benefits to Silverlink County and its passengers. Originally opened in 1846 as part of the Cambridge to Oxford railway, the four signal boxes, two gate boxes, three crossing keepers huts and related signalling equipment had seen little change in over a century and a half.  This investment brings the route in line with the West Coast Main Line and Midland Mainline, which it connects. - more - Ridgmont – 2             Robbie Burns, Route Director, Network Rail said: “Our £35 million investment has brought the Bedford to Bletchley line into the 21st century and in line with the modern, arterial railways which it intersects. Some may see the closure of the old signal boxes as the end of an era, but the modernisation secures the future of this railway line for Silverlink and its passengers.” Silverlink County's Route Director Julian Drury, said: “The investment Network Rail has made in the route is very good news for the Marston Vale line.   Modern colour light signalling and automatic road/rail barriers, all controlled from a new signalling centre at Ridgmont, together with the track modernisation at Forders Sidings will all help to ensure the reliability and punctuality of the service.   The new platforms at Aspley Guise, Lidlington and Stewartby will also help road users as the road at these stations now open much more quickly after the passage of the train than used to be the case. Mr Drury continued: “I would like to thank all my customers on the route for their patience while the line was closed and road replaced rail as the means of travelling along the route.   Now the line is open again we can really look forward to higher levels of reliability that the new infrastructure offers, which will enable us to meet the needs of our customers.”             During the six-week closure, which saw the train services replaced by buses, Network Rail and its contractors, Carillion carried out the following work: ·        Installation of new level crossing barrier arms, warning sirens, warning lights and floodlights ·        Installation of new fencing at level crossings ·        Line painting and surfacing work at crossings ·        Installation of new highway and railway signage ·        New crossing surfaces ·        Installation of CCTV crossing cameras ·        2km of track renewed - more - Ridgmont – 3 As a result of the upgrade the signal boxes, crossing huts and gate boxes have now been closed and the signalling system and level crossings are all controlled from Ridgmont. The new signalling centre is located opposite the former station.  Network Rail signallers now control all train movements and the level crossings from this one location which is computer based with VDU screens and control panels.

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