The UK’s rail network was upgraded over the Christmas and New Year period, under an investment programme valued at over GBP100m, Britain’s railway infrastructure operator Network Rail announced on Thursday.
Network Rail said this was its largest upgrade programme to date. It included the successful installation of new tracks, new and longer platforms, new lifts and footbridges at stations, upgraded signalling equipment and electrification equipment, which will enable the operation of cleaner, faster electric trains.
In order to minimise the impact on passengers, the work was planned and carried out in conjunction with train operators over the traditionally quiet period for rail travel. The company said hundreds of engineers from Network Rail and its suppliers worked the equivalent of more than 600,000 hours, often in extremely difficult weather conditions, at over 100 locations across the UK over the Christmas period.
The work included a new platform, track and signalling equipment at Gatwick Airport station, where approximately 1300m of track was laid, a 50m footbridge was renewed and 250m new platform, complete with a new lift, escalators and high-level walkway to the station, was completed.
New signalling equipment at Peterborough was also commissioned, as part of a wider project to relieve a major bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line. A new track layout, longer platforms, station bridges, extensions and new lifts are expected to be completed in March 2014.
Electrification work was carried out at Manchester Victoria, with the lowering of 400m of track and the removal of 1300 tonnes of spoil in order to create additional headroom for overhead power lines. This will allow electric trains to run from Manchester to Liverpool.
A new rail bridge was installed in Ipswich, as part of a 1.1km stretch of new railway to be completed in March 2014. The new track will connect the East Suffolk Line and Great Eastern Main Line, increasing rail capacity to the port of Felixstowe.
Also major upgrade of Gravesend station is expected to be completed on Sunday 5 January. This upgrade includes a new platform, which will enable longer 12-car trains to stop at the station for the first time. Improved facilities will also include a new footbridge and lifts to all platforms, which are scheduled to be completed in May 2014.
A spokesperson for Network Rail commented: “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.”