Monday 21 Mar 2016
Railway Upgrade Plan to deliver a better, more reliable railway for passengers and freight this Easter
Hundreds of thousands of passengers and freight users are set to benefit from one of the biggest Easter investment programmes ever carried out on Britain’s rail network.
Over 15,000 members of Network Rail’s orange army will be working over the four-day Easter weekend to deliver a £60m slice of the company’s £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers and businesses. The railway, however, remains firmly open for business as the vast majority of services will be unaffected by this programme with over 95% of the network open as normal.
New station facilities, longer platforms, extra tracks, new junctions and thousands of pieces of new, more reliable equipment will be installed and delivered in a programme that will begin late on Thursday, 24 March, once the last trains have run.
Over 450 separate improvement projects will be carried out by Network Rail and its team of contractors across Britain over the period, the majority of which will have no impact on passengers. Where there are changes to services as a result of upgrade work, a comprehensive advertising campaign is under way to make sure passengers are able to make informed decisions about their travel over the Easter weekend.
The work is timed to take advantage of a relatively quieter time of the year when, on average, fewer than half the usual 4.5m people use the railway each day – enabling Network Rail and train operators to minimise disruption as much as possible.
Mark Carne, Network Rail chief executive, said “This Easter, our 15,000-strong army of rail workers will be working round the clock to deliver our Railway Upgrade Plan, providing better, more reliable journeys for passengers and businesses across Britain.
“I’m acutely conscious that many people want to use the railway during the Easter holidays, but with fewer people traveling by train over this four-day weekend, it is a good time to undertake these massive improvement projects. The vast majority of services will be unaffected by this programme with over 95% of the network open as normal.
“Passengers have shown themselves to be incredibly understanding of planned improvement work and I’d like to thank them in advance for their support and understanding as we deliver the big improvements that the travelling public want to see.
“The number of people travelling by rail continues to grow to record levels. Our work this Easter forms a key part of our Railway Upgrade Plan to meet surging demand and improve and expand our congested railway network.”
Eleanor Lawrence, an apprentice technician, is the face of Network Rail’s nationwide ‘Check Before You Travel’ campaign which uses posters, billboards and digital screens at stations as well as online and print adverts to urge people to check for changes to their journeys over Easter.
Eleanor said: “I’ll be celebrating Easter and eating chocolate with dozens of other members of the orange army while doing essential work to keep the railway safe and reliable for passengers.
“I’ve been interested in the railway since I was very young but since I joined the industry I’ve been amazed and inspired by the people around me and their commitment to make the railways better. This is such a worthwhile job and makes a difference to so many people and carries such a huge responsibility to keep people safe and provide a good, reliable service. It’s a job and a career that really matters.”
Notes to editors
- The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail’s £40bn spending plan for Britain’s railways for the five year period up to 31 March 2019. The plan is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to tremendous growth the railways have seen – a doubling of passengers in the past twenty years. The plan will deliver a bigger, better railway with more trains, longer trains, faster trains with more infrastructure, more reliable infrastructure and better facilities for passengers, especially at stations
- Although most of the network will be unaffected by planned improvement work, passengers are advised to check their journeys if travelling over Easter at nationalrail.co.uk
- The biggest parts of the Easter Railway Upgrade Plan include:
In and around London:
- Overhead line renewals and Crossrail work on the Great Eastern main line near Brentwood and Gidea Park affecting services out of London Liverpool Street
- Major renewals at Battersea means no Southern services from Victoria and much reduced services on Brighton main line
- Thameslink work continues in the London Bridge area with Cannon Street closed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
- East Kent resignalling sees the Chatham main line closed between Swanley and Faversham
- Crossrail and Western electrification work between Paddington and Reading will see reduced train services (two of four lines closed)
- One of two lines closed south of Peterborough on the East Coast main line means changes to services on Saturday and Sunday. Direct long-distance trains continue but local and some long-distance services are diverted via Cambridge
- The Stafford area improvement programme comes to a major milestone bringing into use a huge new flyover. Most long-distance services are being diverted via Stoke, which adds little extra time, but other services see significant changes
- A major nine-day closure of Manchester Victoria for Northern Hub remodelling work kicks off on Good Friday with the station and railway reopening on Monday 4 April
- Glasgow Queen Street station (high level) will close for 20 weeks from 20 March with services diverted to the low-level station or other Glasgow stations in many cases
- Stansted – normal service
- Heathrow – Heathrow Express operates but two an hour rather than four
- Gatwick – fast, direct services operate but from London Bridge rather than Victoria
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 36,000 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.