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Improvement work between Rugby and Milton Keynes, 3 – 16 May 2020
James Dean, managing director of West Coast Mainline South route
We all know the coronavirus pandemic has created some challenging and testing times for the entire country.
Sectors of our society – health and social care, emergency services, delivery networks, to name a few – are under unparalleled levels of pressure. Although passenger demand has eased for the transport sector, as the public is urged to stay at home, we’re still working hard behind the scenes to keep passengers who do need to travel, and millions of tonnes of freight, moving.
One outcome of COVID-19 for the rail industry is far fewer passengers in our stations and on trains. While we’d rather everyone was travelling as normal, a quieter railway presents an opportunity for our engineering teams, who have much more flexibility to carry out essential work to keep the railway running safely and reliably for years to come.
The West Coast main line will be closed between Milton Keynes and Rugby from Sunday 3 May until Saturday 16 May.
A reduced timetable is already in operation as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. These services will be diverted and may take longer than normal during our vital work.
Why are we doing it now?
We’re taking advantage of this opportunity, while the railway is quieter, to carry out 150 essential maintenance jobs on this critical stretch of railway between London and Birmingham.
We would never be able to deliver work of this magnitude and close the line for this length of time during ‘normal’ working.
Work will include the installation of a new drainage system through Kilsby Tunnel in Daventry, as well as track renewals and track maintenance on the route – the Backbone of Britain.
Other jobs include maintenance to the overhead electric wires and signalling system, as well as vegetation management and drainage improvements elsewhere on this section of railway.
Why is it needed?
Following heavy rainfall late in 2019 and earlier this year, our teams identified drainage issues through Kilsby Tunnel, a 1.4-mile long tunnel located about 5 miles southeast of Rugby station, which was built in 1838.
Standing water on the track through the tunnel and the consequent poor track quality means that we had to put speed restrictions in place, so that trains could pass through the area safely while we developed a plan of action to renew the track through the busy tunnel.
The speed restrictions cause knock-on delays to services travelling through the tunnel. New and improved drainage systems and track through the tunnel will resolve this issue.
Overall, this major engineering programme will result in more reliable journeys for passengers using the West Coast main line – Europe’s busiest mixed-use passenger and freight railway line.
Advice for passengers if you need to travel
If you do need to make a journey by rail between Sunday 3 and Saturday 16 May, please check before you travel by visiting National Rail Enquiries website, as some services may take longer than usual.
Advice for lineside neighbours
With such a lot of work being undertaken along the line over the 14-day period, it’s not possible for us to follow our usual process of pre-notification for people who live near to the railway.
All of our staff and contractors are briefed on working responsibly in the local community.
To report any issues or concerns you may have about the work taking place, over the Early May Bank Holiday or at any other time, call the Network Rail 24-hour National Helpline on 03457 11 41 41 or visit our contact us page.
Keep up to date with work taking place during the closure @NetworkRailEUS on Twitter.
I want to thank all of our colleagues, passengers and lineside neighbours for their patience while this work takes place.
The post West Coast main line major track and drainage upgrades appeared first on Network Rail.
This article first appeared on www.networkrail.co.uk
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