Bank Holiday: 14,000 engineers upgrade network

More than 14,000 rail staff worked over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, with engineering work focused on London and the South East and on the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

A host of closures on the WCML began with track renewals between Tring and Hemel Hempstead and on the Trent Valley at Weedon.

Stafford was a focal point, with signalling upgrades between there and Wolverhampton, in addition to track, signalling and overhead line electrification works in the station area and between Norton Bridge and Stone.

Track renewals also took place between Crewe, Wigan and Warrington, while in Scotland a junction replacement at Carstairs and bridge works at Motherwell and Newton added to the workload.

The East Coast Main Line was comparatively quiet, with efforts focused on upgrading four level crossings and track renewals in the Doncaster area. But in East Anglia, 1,200m of track was installed at Derby Road near Ipswich.

In London, two of the four tracks on the Great Western Main Line through Slough closed to enable the installation of new track and junctions for Crossrail. On the Great Eastern Main Line, Crossrail bridge works and overhead line equipment installation and new track at Chadwell Heath took place, while at Waterloo a junction was renewed.

The ongoing Thameslink programme added to closures in the London area, with Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Waterloo East and London Bridge high level Platforms 1-3 closed at points through the weekend.

In Kent, work on the Medway Towns signalling upgrade and Rochester’s new station led to diversions. Southeastern also had to cope with the engineering works taking place closer to the capital.

Network Rail said that more than 95% of the rail network would be unaffected by the engineering works, and that passenger numbers over a typical Bank Holiday weekend are up to 30% less than usual. 

Chief Executive Mark Carne said: “Our improvement programme this Bank Holiday, delivered by a 14,000-strong army of rail workers, has been focused on delivering a better service for passengers. We are acutely conscious that many people want to use the railway over the Bank Holiday to reunite with their friends and families, which is why the vast majority of the network was running normally over the long weekend.

“Passenger numbers continue to grow and grow, and this Bank Holiday investment programme forms a key part of our £38 billion railway upgrade plan that is aimed at meeting surging demand and improving and expanding our congested railway network.”

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