New advanced engineering techniques enabled trains to run at higher speeds following Network Rail’s £150 million Christmas engineering programme.
‘High speed handbacks’ allow trains to immediately start using the railway at high speeds - 125mph in some cases - and avoid many of the temporary speed restrictions typically put in place after major track upgrades, perhaps to let fresh ballast settle.
They are achieved by ensuring that each stage of track is installed to its specific design tolerances. Extra care is also taken while tamping to put track back to its final exact co-ordinates, and that welding and stressing is completed as part of core works and not scheduled for a later date.
In addition to reducing passenger delays, Network Rail was able to save hundreds of thousands of pounds as a result of staff spending less time trackside to set up and remove speed boards for drivers, and through a reduced need for compensation to train operators.