Wednesday 10 Sep 2014

Work to upgrade Midland Main Line continues

Region & Route:
| North West & Central
  • Work to reconstruct three bridges in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire is essential to prepare the line for faster, quieter, greener electric trains
  • Passengers are reminded to plan ahead and check before they travel on Sunday September 14 and Sunday September 21

Work to reconstruct three bridges between Bedford and Wellingborough stations is set to start this month, as part of a major investment to provide more reliable journeys for passengers on the Midland Main Line.

By 2020, an investment of more than £1.5bn will have electrified the line, replaced tracks, reconstructed bridges, lengthened platforms and improved signalling.The affected bridges are Hartops bridge and Radwell Moor End Lane bridge in Bedfordshire, and Harrowden Road bridge in Northamptonshire.

Phil Verster, Network Rail route managing director, said: "We are undertaking major works on the railway between Bedford and Sheffield to create a railway that is fit for the 21st century and can meet the growing demands for rail travel.

"We understand that these temporary closures will affect passengers, and people who live and work in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. However, we are working hard to minimise disruption to the public and complete the work as quickly and efficiently as possible.

"We are doing this not only by working closely with local authorities and East Midlands Trains, but also by making sure that when we do close the railway, we maximise the amount of work that we do. Over the two weekends, we will also be carrying out viaduct and bridge repairs, installing a new footbridge and essential maintenance works."

David Horne, managing director, East Midlands Trains, said: "This is a major and significant investment scheme that will deliver some of the biggest improvements to our network in decades.

"We're committed to working with Network Rail to ensure that passengers are kept up to date with the latest information on the scheme and how it will impact on our train services. We'd advise passengers planning to travel on Sunday 14 and Sunday 21 September to check our website,, for details of the changes in place.

The modifications to the bridges are essential to allow the electrification of the railway between Bedford and Sheffield, which will provide a more reliable railway as Network Rail modernises the route using state-of-the-art new technology.

At present, none of the three bridges have the required height for new overhead line equipment that will be installed along the route to power electric trains, and it is not possible to lower the track beneath. By raising the height of the bridges, additional space will be created for new overhead lines.

This work will mean that sections of the railway will need to be closed over two weekends in September affecting travel on Sunday September 14 and Sunday September 21.

To complete the work, it is anticipated that existing road closures will continue until the following dates:

  • Hartops bridge, up to Christmas 2014
  • Radwell Moor End Lane bridge, late November 2014
  • Harrowden Road, early December 2014

Network Rail has worked closely with Bedford Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council to agree diversionary routes.

Notes to editors

The Midland Main Line runs from St Pancras to Sheffield, via Luton, Bedford, Kettering, Corby, Leicester, East Midlands Parkway, Derby, Nottingham and Chesterfield.

Anticipated timeline:

  • Electric trains to Corby (by December 2017)
  • Electric trains to Derby and Nottingham (by December 2019)
  • Electric trains to Sheffield (by December 2020)

Benefits of electrification:

  • Electric trains are longer, helping to deal with overcrowding and the growing demand for the railway
  • Improved reliability and performance as we modernise the route using new state-of-the-art technology
  • Faster and quieter trains and improved journey times
  • Greener trains enable the carbon footprint to be reduced by up to 11,000 tonnes - equivalent to annual greenhouse gas emissions from 1,828 passenger vehicles
  • Stimulating and supporting economic growth as we connect the region's biggest economies.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to contact Network Rail's 24 hour helpline on 08457 11 41 41 if they have any questions

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - South East route
020 3357 7969

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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.

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