A record-breaking programme of upgrades to Britain’s rail network was successfully completed over the Christmas and New Year period, providing new tracks, new and longer platforms, new lifts and footbridges at stations, upgraded signalling equipment and electrification equipment to allow cleaner, faster electric trains to run.
At more than £100m, the festive investment programme was the biggest ever carried out by Network Rail and was planned in conjunction with train operators to minimise the impact on passengers during what is traditionally one of the quietest periods for rail travel.
Hundreds of engineers from Network Rail and its suppliers worked the equivalent of more than 600,000 hours at more than 100 locations across Britain over the period, often in extremely difficult weather conditions.
Highlights of the work completed include:
* A new platform, track and signalling equipment at Gatwick Airport station. Around 1300m of track was laid, a 50m footbrige was renewed and 250m new platform, complete with a new lift, escalators and high-level walkway to the station was completed.
* Commissioning of new signalling equipment at Peterborough, part of a wider project to relieve a major bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line which includes a new track layout, longer platforms, station bridges, extensions and new lifts (completion March 2014).
* Electrification work at Manchester Victoria, which saw 400m of track lowered and 1300 tonnes of spoil removed to create additional headroom for overhead power lines so electric trains can run from Manchester to Liverpool starting in December.
Installation of a new rail bridge in Ipswich, part of a 1.1km stretch of new railway connecting the East Suffolk Line and Great Eastern Main Line to increase rail capacity to the port of Felixstowe (completion March 2014).
* A major ugrade of Gravesend station is scheduled for completion on Sunday 5 January as planned. The upgrade includes a new platform and will allow longer 12-car trains to call at the station for the first time, providing more seats and extra space for passengers. There will also be improved facilities including a new footbridge and lifts to all platforms (completion May 2014).
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Passengers and businesses are really seeing the benefits of sustained investment in the railway, with new and longer platforms, better stations and more capacity for extra passenger and freight services. The work carried out this Christmas and New Year period is part of our plan for a bigger, better railway and means the industry can cater for the continuing growth in demand for rail travel.”