Published on : Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The West Coast main line reopened on time today (18 August) after Network Rail successfully completed the second successive weekend of upgrade work at Watford.
Over the weekend and into Monday more than 300 track workers and engineers continued work to replace and install new sections of railway and parts of the new modern signalling system in the area.
With the final August closure happening over the bank holiday weekend, passengers are being urged to plan their journeys and check before they travel.
The railway will be closed between Saturday 23 and Monday 25 August, reopening on Tuesday 26 August.
The bank holiday weekend closure will affect passengers from across parts of Scotland, the West Midlands and the north west who plan to travel to London along the West Coast main line and means alternative routes will have to be used to travel in and out of London.
Jim Syddall, acting route managing director for Network Rail, said: “A huge amount of work has been completed over the last two weekends but there is still a significant amount left to do over the August bank holiday weekend.
“The section of track at Watford is one of the most intensively used, high-speed pieces of railway in Britain and has seen tremendous growth in traffic and passengers over the last five years.
“There is never a good time to close the railway and we apologise for the inconvenience caused but this work is essential to maintain reliable train services for the millions of passengers who travel on this route every year.
“We have worked with all our industry partners to provide passengers with information in advance and will continue to during the work to minimise disruption as much as possible.”
The August closures follow the May Day weekend closure earlier this year and are part of eight weekend and bank holiday closures which will take place until April 2015. Significant upgrade work is being carried out to improve reliability and punctuality along this section of the railway.
To complete the work, more than 21,000 tonnes of stone ballast will be used, more than 28,000 tonnes of waste will be removed from the site and 11,000 new railway sleepers will be installed as part of nine miles of track renewals.
Network Rail is working closely with the train operating companies who will provide alternative routes in and out of London for passengers.
Although alternative arrangements will be in place, journey times will be considerably longer and passengers are being advised to avoid travelling to and from London on the West Coast main line during the closures if travel is not essential.
Terry Oliver, London Midland’s head of west coast services, said: “My advice would be to use an alternative train route where possible. London Midland has arranged for its tickets to be accepted by selected operators to allow passengers to do this.
“If you need to travel along the affected route during the closures, remember to allow plenty of time, plan ahead and check before you travel.
“We have worked to minimise inconvenience and we will continue to update passenger information. Staff will be at stations along the closed route to provide assistance.”
Phil Bearpark, operations and customer service director for Virgin Trains, said: “We understand that improvement works can have a big impact on passengers and strongly advise customers to check their journey in advance and allow extra time if necessary.
“We have worked closely with Network Rail and industry partners to ensure alternative travel arrangements are in place and to keep disruption to a minimum whilst this important work is carried out.”
In all cases, Virgin Trains’ customers will need to use an alternative train operator for journeys to and from London. Those that have access to other routes via Chiltern Railways, East Midlands Trains and East Coast are being encouraged to use these instead. Southern services will also be impacted.
As part of a joint passenger campaign, travellers should use National Rail Enquiries to check and plan their journey if they have to travel during this time using:
Work will also be taking at London Bridge station over the bank holiday weekend. The station is being rebuilt in phases as part of the Thameslink Programme which is improving north-south rail links across London. From Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 August, major reconstruction work at the station will mean no First Capital Connect or Southern services will be able to call at London Bridge. London Bridge Underground station will not be affected.
Source:- Network Rail