Network Rail latest

Customer update: Stonehaven-Montrose recovery works

The railway line between Stonehaven and Montrose will remain closed until Monday February 22 as engineers work to complete repairs on a damaged bridge between the towns.

The rail bridge, located three miles north of Carmont, has been closed since January 15 after masonry fell from the sidewall on its southbound side.

Full structural assessments on the bridge – which was built in the 1840s – have now been completed by our specialist engineers and plans are in place to repair the bridge and reopen the railway for passengers and freight customers.

Engineers will be working around-the-clock to fix the damaged parapet (sidewall) and also provide additional strengthening of the bridge deck beneath the southbound line.

To do this engineers will first install additional concrete supports on the bridge deck to help retain and support the track and ballast.

The parapet wall will then be reconstructed and ties installed on the bridge to further strengthen the masonry on the structure. Once those works are complete, the ballast and track will be relaid.

Network Rail’s capital delivery director for Scotland’s Railway, Kris Kinnear, said: “We’re working hard to quickly deliver these repairs and reopen the line, but these are significant engineering works and will take time to complete.

”The rural location of the bridge and the fact our engineers will be working at considerable height in an exposed location also mean this project is a challenging one for our team.

“We are working around-the-clock to safely reopen the railway as soon as we possibly can for our customers.”

The bridge was last inspected in October 2020 and also received a detailed examination in March 2018.

There was no significant deterioration in its structural condition found in these inspections.

Investigations to establish the cause of the parapet’s failure are ongoing.

Network Rail will invest over £300m between 2019 and 2024 renewing and refurbishing bridges and spends £10m each year on inspecting structures.

Additional inspections have also been carried out as a precaution on other similar bridges between Aberdeen and Montrose, and elsewhere on Scotland’s Railway.

Essential maintenance on Heart of Wessex line to begin in February

The railway line between Dorchester West and Castle Cary will be closed for five days in February for vital maintenance.

Between Monday 15 and Friday 19 February buses will replace trains between the two stations while engineers carry out a package of work which will help to maintain reliability on the Bristol to Weymouth line, also known as the ‘Heart of Wessex’ line.

South of Yeovil Pen Mill station, engineers will remove loose material off the rockface of the railway cutting, install 250 metres of new lineside fencing and install equipment to monitor the cutting remotely.

Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex route director, said: “This vital work will improve the reliability of the railway between Dorchester West and Castle Cary, which provides an important route for local communities.

“Closing the railway for five days means we can complete more work than over a series of weekend closures and would like to thank passengers for their continued patience as our engineers carry out this much-needed maintenance.”

James Wilcox, Great Western Railway station manager for Wiltshire and Dorset, said: “While anyone choosing to travel should follow the latest Government advice, we have been working hard to make sure that those who do need to travel can be confident to do so safely, and that includes running as many trains and carriages as is necessary, as well as enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures.  

 “If you do need to travel, please do, plan ahead, reserve a seat and be considerate of others.” 

During the closure, teams will take the opportunity to deliver additional maintenance.

Yeovil Pen Mill signal box, which controls signalling between Castle Cary and Dorchester West, is one of the country’s few remaining semaphore signal boxes, using levers to switch sets of points and lower and raise signal arms. At Yeovil Pen Mill station, engineers will replace sleepers that support the rails; a delicate task as teams will need to navigate historic signalling rods positioned alongside the railway and used to control the station’s semaphore signals.

Structural engineers will also use the time to conduct a thorough inspection of a bridge crossing the River Yeo, using cameras mounted on a Road Rail Vehicle (RRV).

Passengers should note that a separate closure will see buses replace trains between Bournemouth and Weymouth on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 February.

£500k revamp at Eridge station to improve passengers’ journeys

Passengers will now benefit from improved platforms at Eridge station in East Sussex which follows on from the £1.8m footbridge and canopy upgrade last year.

Eridge station serves the rural district in East Sussex with Southern trains services via the Uckfield branch of the Oxted line. Enhancements at the station include refurbishment of the existing platforms which will provide safer journeys for people who need to travel.

The drainage system has also been upgraded to prevent future flooding and improve the reliability of the railway. These works are the latest upgrades to be delivered at the station which will improve the passenger experience for essential travel into London.

Paul Harwood, regional investment director for Network Rail, said:

“We strive to put passengers at the heart of our approach to running the railway, and upgrading the platforms at Eridge station is aimed at giving better journeys to the people who need to travel on this route.

“Our engineers and contractors have worked in challenging circumstances at Eridge and these works compliment the recent £1.8m upgrade of the footbridge.”

These upgrades will also be complemented by Govia Thameslink Railway’s (GTR’s) comprehensive refurbishment of the station buildings, which includes a waiting room being restored with the help of a £30,000 grant from the Railway Heritage Trust. To give the station a heritage feel, GTR are using the colours of Spa Valley Railway, who run services from their own dedicated platform at Eridge.

Angie Doll, Managing Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, said:

“On behalf of our Eridge customers, we welcome Network Rail’s major investment in the station’s infrastructure. In conjunction with their work, as part of our network-wide, multimillion-pound station improvement programme we’re giving Eridge a full refurbishment inside and out, including a welcoming new heritage-style waiting room, more seating and redecorated toilets. I would also like to say a special thank-you to the local community who we’re working very closely with on the project, and to the Railway Heritage Trust for their important financial support and design advice. 

“If you have to travel during the current coronavirus restrictions, please remember the rules: hands, face, space.”

Network Rail will be back at Eridge later this year to deliver an accessibility scheme as part of the Government’s Access for All Programme.

Liverpool Street station lights the darkness for Holocaust Memorial Day

The lights outside one of London Liverpool Street station’s main entrances have been turned purple today, Wednesday 27 January, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The theme for the day this year is “Be the light in the darkness” and the purple lights at the station are intended to encourage remembrance and send a message of solidarity.

By taking part in Holocaust Memorial Day, the team at Liverpool Street are also helping to commemorate the role of the station and the wider Anglia railway in the Kindertransport.

Kindertransport is the name given to the organised rescue mission which brought 10,000 mainly Jewish children to the UK from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and later Poland between December 1938 and September 1939.

It was not possible for the children to leave from German ports, so most travelled by train to the Netherlands from their home countries, where they boarded cross-channel ferries to the port at Harwich.

If they had foster homes or hostels to go to, the children would then go by train to Liverpool Street station, where they would be met by their new families, or the organisations that had arranged their accommodation.

Some children without prearranged foster families did not go immediately to London, but spent their first weeks at temporary holding centres.

Liverpool Street station has two permanent memorials recognising its role as the final stop on a long journey to safety for the Kindertransport children.

One of the memorials can be found on Hope Square, which is the main entrance on Liverpool Street itself. It is called The Arrival and is part of a series of five sculptures created by Frank Meisler, who himself came to Britain as a Kindertransport child. The five sculptures are installed across Europe along Meisler’s personal route to safety.

The other memorial, with the boy and the girl, is by the entrance to the tube on the main concourse. This was created by Flor Kent and is called Fur Das Kind (For the Child / Pro Dítê). There are two other sculptures in the series, which are located at stations in Vienna and Prague.

In September 2009, The Winton Train arrived at Liverpool Street station from Harwich as part of a commemorative train journey from the Czech Republic. This was organised as a tribute to Sir Nicholas Winton, who supervised the rescue of 669 children in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport.

Emma Watson, Network Rail station manager for Liverpool Street, said: “We have lit up in purple to tie in with the Holocaust Memorial Day theme of being a light in the darkness.

“Today we’re also taking an extra moment to think of the children who finally reached safety here at our station in 1938 and 1939, as well as the families left behind. The Kindertransport is an incredibly important part of our history and we are fortunate to have two poignant sculptures that remind us of this every day.”

Dawn Waterman, archives and heritage manager at the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “It’s great to see Network Rail marking Holocaust Memorial Day at Liverpool Street station.

“My father was a Kindertransport child himself and travelled from Harwich to Liverpool Street at the age of eight. He was excited to be travelling on a train with so many other children but he had no idea then that he would never see his parents again. But at least he was safe, unlike millions of others. It’s absolutely crucial that we remember the horrors of the Holocaust, as well as those people who went above and beyond to help their fellow humans.”

Emergency rail works at Ingatestone to continue throughout the week

Emergency works to stabilise the embankment at Ingatestone on the Great Eastern Main Line will continue for the rest of the week after further issues were found during remedial work.

The line out of London to Norwich will remain closed, with services operating in both directions on the line towards London. This means the number of services will be reduced on the main line and branch line services to Clacton, Braintree, Southend, Colchester Town and Harwich are also affected.

On Friday 22 January, the embankment became unstable, causing a dip in the tracks. Network Rail’s engineers have been working around the clock to make repairs, but further works are now required.

A further update will be sent out on Friday (29 January). Passengers are advised to check Greater Anglia’s website or app for the latest travel information. Passengers should also follow government advice and only travel for work if essential or for other legally permitted reasons.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “I understand how frustrating it is that the work is taking longer than expected and I’m sorry for the disruption this is causing to passengers. We are doing everything we can to carry out the repairs quickly so that we can safely reopen the line.

“I know that this has been very disruptive for passengers and for those living nearby and I’d like to thank everyone for their patience. I’d like to say a special thank you to those who have worked with us to give us access to the site and enable us to carry out these emergency repairs.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director, said: “We would like to thank customers for their patience while engineers work to repair the railway, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused. Although the work is taking longer than anticipated, safety is our top priority.

“We are running a reduced timetable for all services which travel through Ingatestone. Customers should check before they travel and allow more time for their journey. We will keep our website updated with any changes to our services.

“Anyone who is affected by the delays can claim compensation at www.greateranglia.co.uk/delayrepay

“Government travel advice is currently to stay at home and only travel for legally permissible reasons such as work and medical appointments. Information about what we are doing to keep passengers safe during the pandemic is on our website.”

No trains into London south of Potters Bar and Gordon Hill this weekend as work ramps up on the East Coast Upgrade

Network Rail, Thameslink and Great Northern are reminding passengers making essential journeys on the East Coast Main Line that no trains will run south of Potters Bar and Gordon Hill, to or from London King’s Cross, Moorgate or St Pancras via Finsbury Park this Saturday and Sunday, 30 and 31 January.

Over the weekend, teams are continuing with essential work to install overhead line equipment and improve the signalling in and around King’s Cross, which will bring more reliable journeys for passengers. This work, which is part of the £1.2billion East Coast Upgrade, is being carried out safely, in line with Government guidance. 

There will also be changes to services on each weekend throughout February, and no trains to or from London King’s Cross on Friday 26, Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 February, as major work takes place ahead of a longer partial closure at the station between Monday 1 March and early June. During this time, teams will modernise the track layout, making it easier for trains to enter and exit the station.

The £1.2billion East Coast Upgrade is the biggest investment in the route in a generation and will bring a more modern, reliable railway for passengers, transforming journeys between London, Peterborough and Cambridge.

People must continue to follow the latest Government guidance and stay at home, except for limited reasons. Those who must travel are strongly advised to check their journeys via National Rail Enquiries, at EastCoastUpgrade.co.uk or on their train operator’s website and allow plenty of time.

  • Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 January – There will be no trains at all south of Potters Bar and Gordon Hill, to or from London King’s Cross, Moorgate and St Pancras International via Finsbury Park.

Passengers travelling between London and Peterborough/Cambridge/Stevenage/Welwyn Garden City will need to use replacement buses, which will connect with alternative rail and London Underground services.

Buses will also replace trains between Peterborough and Hitchin.

  • Sunday 7 and Sunday 14 February – There will be a reduced service to and from London King’s Cross. No services will run between Peterborough and Hitchin, with buses replacing trains
  • Sunday 21 February – There will be a reduced service to and from London King’s Cross. No trains will run between Stevenage and Alexandra Palace.
  • Friday 26, Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 February – No trains will run to or from London King’s Cross, Moorgate or to or from St Pancras International via Finsbury Park.

Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail’s East Coast Upgrade, said: “We’re making vital improvements at King’s Cross over the next few weeks, ahead of a longer partial closure at the station, when we will be changing the layout of the track to bring more reliable services for passengers.

“The improvements being carried out this weekend to the overhead lines and signalling system can only be done safely when there are no trains on the lines. This means passengers who must travel should check their journeys and allow plenty of time.

“We want to thank people for their continued patience as work gathers pace on the East Coast Upgrade.”

Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director for Great Northern and Thameslink, said: “Due to the pandemic and Government restrictions, no-one should be travelling unless their journeys are absolutely essential. For those who have to take the train, this weekend will be particularly difficult, and I would urge you to check the latest advice at National Rail Enquiries before heading out to the station.”

Memorial plaque to remember those lost in Abermule train collision on 100th anniversary

A memorial plaque to remember the 17 people who died in the Abermule train collision, which happened 100 years ago today, has been unveiled.  

On 26 January 1921, two trains collided head-on on the Cambrian line, killing 17 people in what remains one of the biggest rail collisions in the UK.  

To mark the centenary, wreaths have been laid in the village on behalf of Network Rail, Abermule with Llandyssil Community Council, Powys County Council and Machynlleth Town Council. 

A commemorative plaque, sponsored by Network Rail, Transport for Wales & Abermule with Llandyssil Community Council, has also been donated to the community, remembering those who lost their lives.  

The plaque, made by local stonemason M.E & A Hughes Monumental Masons, is the first permanent and physical reminder of the collision in the town. 

A memorial gathering had been planned by the community council and events were due to be held at the local school, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this could not go ahead and will be rearranged for a later date. 

Instead, representatives from Network Rail and Abermule Community Council attended the site, near to the old Abermule Station to lay the wreaths, in compliance with social distancing measures and government guidance. 

Railway Mission’s Chaplain for Wales, Andy Hall, also recorded a ceremonial reading in memory of the victims. 

abermule 3

Bill Kelly, route director for Network Rail Wales and Borders, said:  

“It’s so important we pause and reflect on those events at Abermule a century ago – when 17 people lost their lives. 

“Learning from past accidents is fundamental to the way we operate the railway today and it’s vital we remind ourselves of what happened in the past – how far we’ve come – and areas where we could still improve. 

“This new, permanent memorial in the community of Abermule will serve as a reminder to future generations of those who tragically lost their lives.” 

James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, said: 

“The events of 26 January 1921 are a reminder of the fragility of life and the vital importance of safety on the railway.  

“Our thoughts remain with the people of Abermule and the relatives of those involved 100 years on from this tragic event.” 

Councillor Gareth Pugh, on behalf of Powys County Councilsaid: 

“As part of the Abermule community, I would like to express both my personal condolences and the deepest condolences of the local authority, Powys County Council, to both the victims and families of the railway disaster.  

“It is part of our history and entirely appropriate that 100 years on we mark that tragic event in which 17 people lost their lives.” 

Jane Rees Chair of Abermule with Llandyssil Community Council, said: 

“The Community Council welcomes the joint venture with Network Rail and Transport for Wales to create a lasting memorial to the 17 passengers and railway workers, who lost their lives in the train crash near Maeshafren on 26th January, 1921.  

“Our thoughts are with their surviving relatives, many of whom were local to Montgomeryshire. 

“It is a shame that we could not have a memorial event due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

‘The memorial plaque will be sited in the village at a later date, when we can arrange an event with the opportunity to view the project work by the local school children.” 

Terry Wain, a Trustee of Abermule Community Centre said: 

“We are all very grateful to Network Rail, Transport for Wales and Abermule with Llandyssil Community Council for jointly funding the memorial plaque.  

“The events of 100 years ago were tragic in the extreme and sympathy for the victims is still very real.  

“After all, they had survived World War 1 and the 1918 global pandemic only to perish in such a devastating and completely avoidable disaster. 

“This plaque will serve permanently as Abermule’s memorial to the victims.” 

Wales Chaplain Special Reading

Wrapped up in that fateful moment Lives ended,

lives changed; In the blink of an eye.

Through grief, loss and mourning: Scarred memories transcend

The how, where, and why.

Etched for all time,

On landscape and mind,

The tragic event Unfolds and unwinds,

As we seek to remember a long century on

the 36 injured

And 17 gone.

Note: The plaque, donated by Network Rail, TfW and the community council, will be stored in a safe place in the villagebefore it is installed in a permanent location (TBA). 

Network Rail volunteers help set up mass vaccination facility in Exeter

A team of Network Rail workers have played their part in tackling COVID-19 by volunteering to help set up the new large-scale Vaccination Centre near Exeter, Devon.

Between Monday 18 and Friday 22 January, workers from Network Rail volunteered their time to unload around 100 pallets of equipment from articulated lorries and set it up inside the main building at Westpoint Exeter.

Volunteers worked tirelessly completing a range of tasks such as assembling furniture, laying out signage and constructing the vaccination pods to help ensure the facility, just off the M5 motorway in Exeter will be ready to open on today (Tuesday 26 January).

This latest contribution by Network Rail follows its volunteering efforts last year when volunteers helped transform a former DIY store in Exeter into the region’s new Nightingale Hospital.

Nick Millington, Network Rail’s director of Safety taskforce, coordinated Network Rail’s volunteering efforts, said: “We are so proud to have played a part in helping set up this hugely important Vaccination Centre in Exeter.

“Throughout the pandemic, colleagues right across Network Rail have worked tirelessly to help keep our trains and stations running safely for the benefit of our passengers, and we were delighted to have the opportunity to continue contributing towards overcoming COVID-19 away from the tracks.

“It was immensely rewarding to have helped build the Nightingale Hospital in Exeter last year and to see so many colleagues pull together again in a similar fashion speaks volumes of the selfless individuals who have contributed their time to get this vaccination facility up and running.”

Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Wales & Western interim managing director, said: “I would like to commend my Network Rail colleagues for their dedication and commitment in supporting the NHS in Devon set up this life saving Vaccination Centre.

“I look forward to seeing the first people be vaccinated and am truly hopeful this facility helps protect the people of the south west from COVID-19 and enables all of us to return to normality as soon as is safely possible.”

Darryn Allcorn, Devon’s lead chief nurse, said: “We’re very grateful to all the people from Network Rail who volunteered to help set up the Vaccination Centre at Westpoint. It was a fantastic effort by all, and our new centres mean we are on track to further increase the scale and pace of the vaccination programme in Devon.”

Network Rail news updates

Big Push – Network Rail installs 11,000 tonne railway tunnel in UK first

An 11,000 tonne curved concrete box has been successfully pushed under the East Coast Main Line near Peterborough, in a first for UK engineering.

Over the past nine days, Network Rail teams reached this major milestone in the project to build a new tunnel at Werrington, north of Peterborough, which will enable slower moving freight trains to dive underneath the famous passenger route and use an adjacent line northwards.

Newly released time-lapse footage shows the 155-metre curved concrete box tunnel, which is heavier than the Eiffel Tower, being pushed into place at just 150cm per hour, using four hydraulic jacks.

This is the first time that a curved concrete box has been installed using this industry-leading engineering technique in the UK.

It took nine days, but using this cutting-edge technique avoided hundreds of hours of passenger disruption on this vital part of the East Coast Main Line and meant that services could continue running throughout.

Teams removed three of the tracks, lifted the overhead wires and dug out spoil from the site. Once the tunnel was eventually underneath, they then put everything back in place ready for regular services to resume. The work was carried out safely, in line with Government Covid guidance.

Paul Rutter, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Coast Route, said: “Our teams have completed this challenging piece of engineering in a creative way, which also allowed a reduced train service to continue for those who still had to travel.

“Over the nine days, we’ve made major progress on this vital project which will bring faster, more reliable journeys for passengers on the East Coast Main Line.

“I’m so proud that this project has shown itself to be one which is industry leading and that our teams have had the opportunity to use this new technique for the first time in the UK on one of the country’s most famous railway lines.”

David Horne, LNER Managing Director, said: “This essential part of the East Coast Upgrade will allow faster, more frequent LNER services between London, the North of England and Scotland by creating a new and improved route for slower trains to cross the main line. 

“We look forward to working with Network Rail on the remaining East Coast Upgrade engineering works in the first half of this year, so that we can deliver the benefits for our customers and communities of this significant investment.” 

The next stage of the project at Werrington involves work to install two new tracks inside the new tunnel and the associated signalling system, ready for it to come into use at the end of 2021.

The project is part of the £1.2billion East Coast Upgrade. Once complete, it will bring a more reliable railway with more choice for passengers, as well as faster journeys between London, the North of England and Scotland.

Further south, teams are continuing with major work to install overhead line equipment and improve the signalling in and around London King’s Cross. For this work to take place safely, there will be no trains to or from King’s Cross on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 January.

Passengers travelling to or from the north on the East Coast Main Line that weekend will need to transfer at Peterborough for rail replacement coaches, which connect to Thameslink services between Bedford and St Pancras International.

People must continue to follow the latest Government guidance and stay at home, except for limited reasons. Those who must travel are strongly advised to check their journeys via National Rail Enquiries, at EastCoastUpgrade.co.uk or on their train operator’s website and allow plenty of time.

Passengers and road users to benefit from railway upgrades in Atherton

Passenger journeys are being made more reliable with railway drainage and bridge replacement work underway in Greater Manchester.

A £3m Great North Rail Project investment will see Shakerley Lane railway bridge in Atherton rebuilt and more than a mile of track drainage replaced.

This will better protect the track between Manchester and Hindley from flooding caused by heavy rainfall.

For the work to be carried out, a series of weekend railway closures will be needed, as well as the closure of Shakerley Lane.

Some train services will be diverted and buses will replace trains between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria via Walkden on:

  • Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 February 2021
  • Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 February 2021
  • Sundays 7, 14, 21 and 28 March 2021

Shakerley Lane railway bridge will be closed to the public from Monday 4 January until Friday 23 April.

Paul Hodson, head of capital delivery for Network Rail, said: “The work in Atherton as part of the Great North Rail Project will secure the future of this key Greater Manchester route for decades to come.

“As with any major project like this there will be some disruption and I’d like to thank passengers and local people for their patience.”

Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern said: “This vital work being carried out by Network Rail will improve the reliability of the railway in Greater Manchester and secure it for future use for our passengers.

“We will continue to work closely with colleagues across the rail industry to minimise the impact on our customers and I’d like to thank them in advance for their patience and understanding while the work is completed. Please remember to plan journeys ahead of time and check for the latest travel information.”

Passengers are reminded to continue following government Covid safety advice when using public transport.

People can get more advice and plan their journeys at www.nationalrail.co.uk or with their train operator.

£4m Step-Free access work starting at St Mary Cray Station

Passengers, especially those with mobility issues, using St Mary Cray station in Kent will soon benefit from a £4m scheme to make access easier and more convenient.

Two new easy-access lifts are being installed and accessibility features are being installed inside and outside the station building.

The work being funded by the Department for Transport’s ‘Access for All’ programme will make the station much easier to use for passengers with mobility issues, older people and parents with young children.

The large lifts each have the capacity for 16 people and are the ‘through’ type with exits at each end to make accessing them as easy as possible.

Other parts of the station will be improved with work including improvements to the ticket office and relocation of a retail unit into the old taxi office to create more space for the new lift shaft. New handrails and tactile surfacing will be installed on the existing platform staircases.

On the exterior of the station, all staircases will be upgraded as well with new access ramps for the Furzehill Square side of the station, while new chicane handrails will be introduced to the Sayes Court Road entrance to safely slow users down before they emerge onto the footway. There will also be improved cycle shelters and two new blue badge holder parking bays.

Paul Harwood, Network Rail’s Investment Director for Southern Region, said: “The ‘Access for All’ programme enables a significant investment in our stations in Kent and the wider Southern Region which will help all our passengers and especially those with mobility issues. 

“St Mary Cray will have modern step-free access to its platforms for the first time and dozens of other measures throughout the station will make access much easier for all passengers.”

Both Network Rail and the train operating company Southeastern will engage and work with passengers to communicate progress throughout the works.

Matt Hawken, Southeastern station manager for St Mary Cray, said: “At Southeastern we are committed to providing a safe and comfortable journey for everyone.

“A key part of that is how easily people can get around our stations and on or off the trains.

“This work at St Mary Cray means that another one of our stations will have step-free access. It does make a real difference to disabled people and those with heavy luggage or prams.”

The work will begin on the 15 February 2021 and is due to be completed by the end of the Autumn.

Most of the work will take place between Monday to Friday and during daytime hours from 07:30–18:00, however, there may be some occasions where work will have to be carried out overnight, for example, to lift materials in over the railway line, or during weekends when the trains are not running.

Network Rail and its contractor, BAM Nuttall, will ensure measures are in place to minimise the impact of the improvement works on the passengers, railway operation and our local neighbours.

Cat-astrophe averted: missing moggy’s Purr-mingham New Street adventure

A cat missing since Christmas Day has been reunited with her owner after a journey through one of Britain’s busiest railway stations.

While fewer people might be travelling by rail right now, Storm the cat became an unlikely passenger needing additional assistance at Purr-mingham New Street.

The 8-month-old cat had travelled from Erdington on Tuesday 12 January with a passenger intending to take the missing moggy to a rehoming centre in Stafford.

Fortunately for Storm, the passenger had to leave the station unexpectedly, starting a sequence of events which would set the lost feline on her journey homeward bound.

Left at station reception, Storm met shift station manager and cat lover, Lucy Martin, who worked out what to do next.

Lucy, who has cats of her own at home, took Storm to her local vet for a check-up and to see if she was microchipped, but the search came up short.

After two days of scouring social media and animal shelter websites, Lucy and her husband, Simon, eventually had the breakthrough they’d been hoping for.

Storm’s owner, back in Erdington, had posted a desperate plea to find her much-loved pet just after Christmas on a local lost and found Facebook page.

Storm’s owner, Chantelle, said: “I let Storm out as usual on Christmas Day, and when I went to call her back a couple of hours later, there was no sign of her.

“Seeing no sign of her for almost three weeks, I was coming to terms with the fact that she was gone. I was absolutely over the moon when Lucy got in touch to say that she had found a cat that matched the description on my post!

“I sent over some photos of Storm to confirm we had the right cat, and before we knew it she was safely back home. I couldn’t be happier to have her back and I’m so grateful to Lucy and Network Rail for reaching out.”

But Britain’s busiest interchange railway station outside of London is no stranger to animal antics.

Lucy, acknowledging a deserved round of a-paws, said: “Working in a busy station means that acquiring animals on shift isn’t particularly unusual. At the start of lockdown last year we had to rehome a baby dove.

“We knew it was a long shot finding Storm’s forever family again, but we wanted to make sure we tried our best to get her home. I’m so pleased Storm is back home and safe and sound after her railway adventure.”

Storm was quickly reunited with Chantelle in purr-fect health, with all nine lives intact.

Chantelle says she’s feline great to have Storm home – and hopes she doesn’t have a new-found taste for travel by rail, road, sea or air.

UPDATE: Emergency rail works continue at Ingatestone to repair embankment

Emergency works to stabilise the embankment at Ingatestone on the Great Eastern Main Line is progressing well and the work is expected to be completed by Wednesday.

The embankment has become unstable, causing a dip in the tracks on the line out of London towards Norwich. The line from Norwich into London is still open and is being closely monitored. This means that a reduced service is running on the main line and branch line services to Clacton, Braintree, Southend, Colchester Town and Harwich are also affected.

Remedial works are ongoing and are expected to finish on Wednesday morning. A further update will be sent out on Tuesday (26 January) to confirm the timings. Passengers are advised to check Greater Anglia’s website or app for the latest travel information. Passengers should also follow government advice and only travel for work if essential or for other legally permitted reasons.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “We’ve been working around the clock this weekend to carry out repairs. Work is progressing well and as long as there no issues we plan to reopen the line on Wednesday morning.

“I know that this has been very disruptive for passengers and for those living nearby and I’d like to thank everyone for their patience. I’d like to say a special thank you to those who have worked with us to enable access to the site to carry out these emergency repairs.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director, said: “We would like to thank customers for their patience while engineers work to repair the railway, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused.

“We are running a reduced timetable for all services which travel through Ingatestone. Customers should check before they travel and allow more time for their journey. We will keep our website updated with any changes to our services.

“Anyone who is affected by the delays can claim compensation at www.greateranglia.co.uk/delayrepay

“Government travel advice is currently to stay at home and only travel for legally permissible reasons such as work and medical appointments. Information about what we are doing to keep passengers safe during the pandemic is on our website.”

Helicopter surveys keep Wolverhampton and Tamworth stations’ big freezes at bay

Thermal imaging cameras mounted to a Network Rail helicopter are keeping passengers and freight moving after heavy snowfall across the West Midlands.

Although sub-zero temperatures caused heavy snow to fall and ice to form on tracks this weekend, much of the railway has been operating as normal.

This is helped by the Network Rail Air Operations team, which is today (Monday 25 January) carrying out sky-high inspections of the West Coast main line and key rail routes in the West Midlands.

The impressive aerial photos taken on the flight over Wolverhampton station, and also Tamworth station in Staffordshire, are to check that points – the equipment which allows trains to move tracks – do not become frozen and stop working.

In each set of points the steel rails are heated to stop this from happening. If the heaters are working properly the points should glow bright white in the thermal pictures – if they appear dark the helicopter team raises the alarm to engineers on the ground for them to fix.

Dave Penney, Network Rail’s Central route director, said: “With the West Midlands under a blanket of snow the Network Rail Air Operations team has been inspecting the railway from the sky today to help keep passengers and freight moving.

“Key sections of track are fitted with heaters and insulation to help stop them freezing. Thermal imaging cameras attached to a helicopter have been checking the heaters are working.

“Anything reported to us from the skies can then be looked at straight away by the extra teams of people on the ground and fixed as quickly as possible.”

With the cold weather continuing, passengers who still need to travel by train during this period of national lockdown are being advised to check www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest updates.

Network Rail News updates

Passengers reminded of major upgrade to lifts at Macclesfield station

Passengers are being advised about upcoming work to replace lifts at Macclesfield station.

A much-needed £400,000 investment as part of the Great North Rail Project will make step-free access more reliable to station platforms.

Work will start on Wednesday 20 January and take place until Wednesday 31 March 2021.

During the work, staff will be on hand at Macclesfield station to assist passengers.

Both lifts will be improved at the same time and will be out of use.

For passengers this means:

  • No step free access will be available at Macclesfield station between Wednesday 20 January and Wednesday 31 March.
  • Anyone who needs step-free access should book assisted travel with their specific train operator*.
  • During the lift upgrade work, tickets will be valid for passengers to travel via the nearest step-free stations**.
  • While the lifts are out of use, only Platform 1 will have step-free access. This platform is used for trains travelling north.

Tom Wadsworth, senior asset engineer for buildings at Network Rail, said: “This investment into the lifts at Macclesfield station is much-needed and will greatly improve reliability for passengers.

“We understand the upgrade will be disruptive for passengers and we are working closely with station operators to make everyone’s journey as easy as it can be during the work.

“I’d urge anyone planning to travel to or from Macclesfield during the ten-week project to plan ahead and book assisted travel with their specific train operator.”

Laura Harper, Avanti West Coast station manager at Macclesfield, said: “We’re working with Network Rail and industry partners to help customers as the works to upgrade the lifts at Macclesfield station take place.

“As always, our teams will be on hand to help customers travelling to and from Macclesfield during this time but we strongly recommend customers plan ahead, check before they travel and leave extra time for their journey.

“We would like to thank customers for their patience while Network Rail undertake this latest scheme for the Great North Rail Project.” 

John Robson, CrossCountry regional director West Midlands and North West, said: “We understand this work may cause some short term disruption for passengers. However, when complete it will mean better and more reliable step-free access, and an easier travel experience for everyone using the station lifts.”

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “We warmly welcome this significant investment at Macclesfield railway station which will improve access facilities for passengers and visitors to the town.

“I would like to thank rail users in advance for their patience while these works are undertaken and for any inconvenience experienced.

“I would also encourage any passenger with access needs or disability to contact their train operator’s passenger assistance service, in advance of their planned trip, to arrange support for their journey.

“The rail station is a key gateway for Macclesfield and it is great news that this investment will improve passenger facilities and help prepare the station for the expected increase in passengers once HS2 high-speed rail to Crewe and beyond is delivered. It is another vote of confidence in the future of Macclesfield.”

Passengers are being advised to allow extra time for their journeys and to plan in advance on the National Rail Enquiries journey planner at www.nationalrail.co.uk

Network Rail staff to begin a package of Christmas and New Year improvements for passengers in South West London and Hampshire

Network Rail staff will shortly begin a package of improvements for passengers in South West London and Hampshire between Christmas and New Year to maintain and upgrade the railway, and improve reliability for those essential workers still relying on the rail network every day.

People must follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. The new restrictions also mean that people should not travel into or out of London, which is now a Tier 4 area. If you need to travel, please continue following Government advice around the use of public transport – wear a face covering unless you are exempt, travel at quieter times and maintain a distance from other passengers wherever possible.

Between Friday 25 December 2020 and Monday 4 January 2021, engineers will carry out a major programme of work between Clapham Junction and Waterloo, which will see more reliable services and increased connectivity for passengers on the route.

Sections of track and switches and crossings (which allow trains to move between tracks) will be upgraded at Nine Elms Junction. Resignalling work, vegetation clearance and track and bridge inspections will also take place in the area to take advantage of the lower numbers of trains running.

While that work is completed there will be a reduced number of services between Clapham Junction and London Waterloo. At both stations, queuing systems are likely to be in place and platforms 12-20 at London Waterloo will be closed. Vauxhall and Queenstown Road stations will also be closed throughout.

On the same dates, the line between Basingstoke and Salisbury will be closed while engineers strengthen Millway Road bridge in Andover and clear vegetation between Whitchurch and Andover.

Buses will run between Basingstoke and Salisbury and there will be a revised train service between Salisbury and Exeter St Davids.

Some of the other improvement work to provide a more reliable railway includes:

  • Upgrades to the switches and crossings between Hook and Basingstoke and at Eastleigh West junction, which starts late in the evening on Christmas Eve and finishes on the morning of Sunday 27 December
  • Testing new signals as part of the Feltham resignalling scheme, set to take place between late in the evening on Christmas Eve and finish the morning of Sunday 27 December
  • New track will be laid and Cow Lane bridge near Cosham, Portsmouth will be rebuilt between Friday 1 and Sunday 3 January 2021 (plus 17 January).
  • Replacing timber structures on the bridge between Fratton and Portsmouth Harbour on Sunday 3 and Monday 4 January 2021

Passengers should only travel if they have to. A summary of the amended timetable and bus replacement services are available at www.southwesternrailway.com/christmas

Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex route director, said: “Later this week, our staff who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to maintain and upgrade the railway for those who need it, will once again carry out a number of essential upgrades to keep the railway running reliably and smoothly for many years to come.

“This means some journeys may be different, so please travel safely, follow the latest public health advice and only travel if you absolutely have to.”

Alan Penlington, director of customer services at South Western Railway, said: “The work being carried out by Network Rail this festive period is vital to ensure the future reliability of the network.

“We’re asking all customers who have to travel to visit our dedicated webpage; southwesternrailway.com/Christmas.”

Level crossing in Cheltenham to close for emergency works until April 2021

Network Rail has had to close the level crossing on Brockhampton Lane until 7 April 2021 to undertake vital works.

The level crossing was closed on Friday and will now remain closed until next April to allow Network Rail engineers to carry out essential repair work on the equipment that controls the level crossing.

The scale of work was originally expected to only result in the level crossing closing over two weekends, however, the most recent inspection has revealed that the condition of the wiring that controls the level crossing barriers has unexpectedly deteriorated.

As a result of this essential work, the level crossing will remain closed 24/7 to both pedestrians and vehicles until 7 April, subject to authorisation from the local highways authority.

A signed diversion route for vehicles has been put in place via Hyde Lane and letters have been sent to local residents providing further details of this work including a map of the diversion route.

Network Rail project manager, Spencer Hobbs, said: “We recognise this is a lengthy closure and are sorry for any inconvenience this emergency closure may cause the community.

“The safety of our passengers and crossing users is of the utmost importance to us so we have taken the difficult decision to fully close the crossing whilst we undertake this vital repair work.

“We are aware of instances of trespassing on level crossings and urge people to not put their lives at risk by attempting to cross the railway line while the crossing is closed. Trespassing on the railway is illegal and dangerous and we urge people to follow the diversions that have been put in place.

“We would like to sincerely thank everyone for their patience and understanding during this time.”

Engineering works bring New Year improvements for passengers in the South East

Engineering works at South East London’s busiest rail junctions are set to bring more reliable journeys in the New Year.

Engineering works at south east London’s busiest rail junctions are set to bring more reliable journeys in the New Year.

Network Rail staff will be working between Christmas and new year to improve the reliability of a crucial stretch of railway in south east London, used by thousands of essential workers every day.

People must follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. The new restrictions also mean that people should not travel into or out of London, which is now a Tier 4 area.

The upgrades will keep passengers moving safely and reliably and future proof the railway for the long-term, which is part of the South East Upgrade, a record £1.25bn investment to modernise this part of the network.

The lines through Lewisham and St John’s are some of the most heavily-congested in the country, used by services from both the London suburbs and the Kent coast, and are in need of improvement.

Teams of track workers will be upgrading two key railway junctions there from Christmas day through to Tuesday 29 December, and from 1 January to Sunday 3 January.

The Lewisham upgrade will see the replacement of nearly two miles of track which will be laid on 7,500 tonnes of ballast and 1,460 sleepers. A number of sets of points (which help trains cross from one track to another) will also be renewed as part of an investment programme to replace ageing 1970s infrastructure with more reliable equipment.

During the work there will be no trains between Lewisham and Hayes. There will also be changes to some services on the January dates between Cannon Street and Lewisham, and via Greenwich to Dartford.

To keep essential workers moving when lines are closed replacement buses are in operation and tickets will be accepted via alternative TfL routes. Passengers should also wash their hands often and wear face-coverings, unless exempt.

Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s route director for Kent, said: “We are carrying out a number of major engineering projects this Christmas and New Year in order to provide better journeys for our passengers in 2021.

“Our works at Lewisham are particularly key being on the main artery from Kent to London for hundreds of services a day. If you are an essential worker and plan to travel over Christmas, consistent with the Government’s advice, please check your journeys between now and the New Year.

“We know there is never a good time to carry out major works, so I would like to thank passengers for their patience while we make these vital improvements to the railway.”

Scott Brightwell, Southeastern train services director, said: “Over Christmas and early January there are going to be some changes to our services while Network Rail carry out vital improvements at two of our busiest junctions near Lewisham. This will help improve reliability and reduce delays for our passengers.”

Passengers can visit the following places for more information: https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ www.networkrail.co.uk/LewishamUpgrade or https://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/

Final reminder to passengers of major service changes on the East Coast Main Line as £1.2billion upgrade continues over Christmas

Network Rail, Great Northern and Thameslink are reminding passengers who need to travel over the Christmas period to check their journeys to avoid disappointment, as major work takes place on the £1.2billion East Coast Upgrade, including a six-day closure at London King’s Cross and altered services up to and including Sunday 3 January.

People must follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. The new restrictions also mean that people should not travel into or out of London, which is now a Tier 4 area. 

Those who must travel on the East Coast Main Line should allow plenty of time as services which are running are expected to be busy, queuing systems may be in place at stations, and passengers may not be able to board the first train. Passengers can check how their journeys will be affected by visiting eastcoastupgrade.co.uk, www.thameslinkrailway.com or www.greatnorthernrail.com.

Once complete, the East Coast Upgrade will transform journeys between London, Peterborough and Cambridge, as well as with the North of England and Scotland. It will bring a more modern, reliable railway for passengers and ensure the route has more capacity to deal with future passenger volumes.

  • Thursday 24 December 2020 – There will be a near normal service to and from London King’s Cross as Network Rail has postponed the start time of major work, although services will finish earlier in the evening, which is normal for Christmas Eve. Trains are expected to be very busy.
  • Friday 25 and Saturday 26 December 2020 – As usual on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, there will be no services running on the East Coast Main Line, and no alternative services will be provided.
  • Sunday 27 December 2020 – There will be no trains in or out of London King’s Cross and those Great Northern trains will start and finish at Finsbury Park instead. People who need to travel are advised to use London Underground services to and from Finsbury Park or alternative services in and out of Moorgate. Thameslink services to and from Cambridge will continue to serve St Pancras International.

Long-distance trains to and from the north will start and finish at Peterborough or Stevenage instead, and connecting Great Northern or Thameslink trains will run to and from Finsbury Park, St Pancras International or Moorgate. London Underground services will be available between central London and Finsbury Park on the Victoria and Piccadilly lines. Long distance passengers travelling north from London are advised to start their journey from either St Pancras International or Finsbury Park, which is expected to be very busy.

  • Monday 28 to Wednesday 30 December 2020 – There will be no trains in or out of London King’s Cross and those Great Northern trains will start and finish at Finsbury Park instead. People who need to travel are advised to use alternative services in or out of St Pancras International or Moorgate, or to use London Underground services to and from Finsbury Park.

Long distance services to and from the north will start and finish at Peterborough or Stevenage instead, and connecting Thameslink trains will run to and from St Pancras International. Long distance passengers travelling north from London are advised to start their journey from St Pancras International.

  • Thursday 31 December 2020 to Sunday 3 January 2021 – There will be a reduced service to and from London King’s Cross. Trains are expected to be very busy.

Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail’s East Coast Upgrade, said: “This six-day closure from Christmas Day is essential so we can reach a major milestone on the East Coast Upgrade, which once complete, will bring a more reliable railway for passengers and help meet future demand.

“We know people will want to spend time with their families if they can, but it’s essential that people follow the Government guidance and stay at home or stay local. If you have to travel over Christmas, please check your journey and plan ahead where possible to avoid disappointment.

“We want to thank passengers for their continued patience and understanding whist this essential work is carried out.”

Thameslink and Great Northern Managing Director Tom Moran said: “With most of our network now under Tier 4 restrictions, people are being urged to stay at home. Those who have to travel should check carefully online before deciding to head for the train station. Our service will be affected throughout the Christmas period, returning to normal on Monday, 4 January. We’ll be busier too, helping LNER passengers connect with their trains at Stevenage and Peterborough.

“We’ve worked closely with our colleagues at Network Rail and the other train companies to prepare for this. Together, we’ve also advertised the changes widely on radio, social media, at our stations and in the press. Extra staff will be on hand to help people along the way and we have robust contingency plans in place.”

Between Christmas Day and Wednesday 30 December (inclusive), Network Rail teams will be reconstructing, strengthening and diverting Camden Sewer, which runs beneath the railway just outside King’s Cross. This complex part of the project, which involves lifting a large section of all the tracks that serve the station, can only be carried out safely when there are no trains running in the area for six days. New overhead line equipment will also be installed, as well as work to renew some of the tracks.

Engineering works over Christmas and New Year bring improvements for passengers in Sussex

Passengers who need to make essential journeys should check before they travel as there will be changes to services on a few routes due to engineering works including the Gatwick Airport station upgrade project. Details on individual journeys, including the times of trains will be available in journey planners and on National Rail Enquiries.

People are asked to follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. The new restrictions also mean that people should not travel into or out of Hastings, Rother, Havant, Portsmouth, Kent, Surrey or London, which are now Tier 4 areas. 

If you need to travel, please continue following Government advice around the use of public transport – wear a face covering unless you are exempt, travel at quieter times and maintain a distance from other passengers wherever possible.

At stations, we will be deploying extra staff, announcements will make the guidance clear, and additional BTP officers are in place to help keep people safe. An enhanced and rigorous cleaning regime is also in place across stations and trains in Sussex, enabling passengers to make essential journeys in confidence and safety.

Shaun King, route director, Sussex said: “The work we are doing this Christmas and New Year will mean a better, more reliable railway for passengers. We are delivering a vital £150m upgrade to Gatwick Airport station to increase capacity, improve accessibility and transform the experience for more passengers, than ever before.

“Please continue to wear a face covering unless you are exempt, and plan your journey in advance”.

Angie Doll, Managing Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, said: “There will be some changes from the usual festive-period timetable, so please plan well ahead by checking a journey planner, and avoid busy periods if you can.

“If you need to make an essential journey over Christmas or New Year, rest assured we have been working hard behind the scenes to keep trains and stations clean and safe. At all times please remember the three golden rules – hands, face, space: wash or sanitise your hands before and after each trip, wear a face covering and keep a safe distance from other passengers.”

From Sunday 27 December 2020 until Sunday 3 January 2021, there will be changes to Southern and Thameslink services:

  • Southern services between London Victoria and Bognor Regis / Portsmouth & Southsea / Southampton will operate on diversion via Dorking. These services will not call at Gatwick Airport or nearby stations such as Crawley or Three Bridges.
  • Customers at Horsham or to the south that wish to travel to Gatwick Airport should plan to change trains at Horsham and to allow additional time for the connection. Thameslink services will operate on the route between Horsham, Gatwick Airport and London Bridge.
  • Southern / Gatwick Express services between London Victoria and Brighton will not operate Monday 28 December – Thursday 31 December or Saturday 2 January. Customers for Brighton to/from London or Gatwick Airport should plan to use Thameslink services to/from London Bridge.
  • The Thameslink Gatwick Airport to Bedford via Redhill service will start its journey at Three Bridges.

As usual, no trains will be in operation on Christmas Day, and there will be a limited Southern service on Boxing Day.

Passengers can find out how their Christmas journeys will be affected with their train operator, via National Rail Enquiries, or by following #ChristmasRailWorks on Twitter.

Renewed appeals to drivers of tall vehicles to take care after December spike in Kent and South East London bridge bashes

The first half of December has seen bridge strikes in Kent and South East London occurring at nearly double the average rate, leading to renewed calls for drivers to know the heights of their vehicles.

Railway bridges in the county were hit at least 11 times over the first half of December, with incidents recorded at Chestfield, Headcorn, Herne Hill, Kent House, Rochester, Swalecliffe, Orpington, Petts Wood, Sole Street and West Malling.

December has seen almost double the average monthly number of bridge strikes in the county occurring and the rise in incidents reflects the highest number of strikes in the last 5 years.  

The incident at Herne Hill cost nearly a thousand delay minutes to passengers, and the Orpington incident costing 303. The sudden rise is a cause for concern among those managing the Kent Route on behalf of passengers and freight.

Bridge strikes are costly to the network, not just in financial terms, but the costs in delays to passengers and freight.

Nationally, almost six out of ten (59%) of the incidents are caused by HGV drivers, and Network Rail is reminding drivers they can face tough penalties including removing a person’s public service vehicle (PSV) licence.

Automatic camera alert systems have been installed on 6 bridges in Kent to monitor them for movement, as with some  bridge strikes not reported, it is imperative to make sure the bridges remain safe.

Daniel Matthews, Head of Operations for Kent, said: “The early part of December has seen a concerning increase in the rate of bridge strikes on our network. 

“There is no excuse to not know the height of your vehicle before starting your journey.

“As well as putting lives in danger on both road and rail and causing lengthy delays for passengers and road users, drivers who chance it at bridges are at risk of leaving their employers with a hefty bill for repairs and train delay costs, along with a strong threat to their own operator licence.”

To try and combat the number of bridge strikes, adverts are being placed at motorway service station petrol pumps across the country reminding drivers to “Wise Up, Size Up” as “Lorries Can’t Limbo” and drivers should know their vehicle height before they start their journey and to check their route for low bridges.

Network Rail workers give up Christmas with their families to carry out key work on Midland Main Line Upgrade

Around 50 Network Rail workers are giving up their Christmases to carry out vital work as part of the £1.5billion Midland Main Line Upgrade.

Between Christmas Day and Sunday, 27 December, Network Rail teams will carry out work to remove equipment which is no longer needed from the tracks between Wellingborough and Kettering. Over 300 units will be removed, which will create a more reliable railway through reducing the likelihood of track faults, which causes disruption for passengers.

The work will also see a disused building next to the railway demolished. The building is near overhead line equipment and removing it will make it safer and easier for workers to carry out inspections of the electric wires. This means they can fix any faults with this equipment more quickly, reducing delays for passengers. Demolishing the building will also mean Network Rail no longer has to maintain it, which will save taxpayers money.

The Midland Main Line Upgrade is the biggest investment into the line since its construction in the Victorian era and will bring significant benefits for passengers, such as access to faster journeys with more seats available on board more environmentally friendly trains. 

Tom Donnelly is a Project Manager for Network Rail and will be working on this project over Christmas. Tom is based in Derby and joined Network Rail five years ago as a Project Management Graduate.

He said: “Christmas is going to be quite different this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but I’ll still be able to spend some time with my family over the festive period.

“I’m happy to be working on this vital project over Christmas, which will help work on the Midland Main Line Upgrade to progress, as well as to create a more reliable railway for passengers.

“My role will be to manage the progress of the work and deal with any issues which arise to make sure that the work completes on time. I look forward to passengers benefitting from this work and I’m proud to be making a positive difference to their journeys.”

As there are no timetabled services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day on this part of the railway, Network Rail uses this opportunity to carry out major work and avoid disruption for passengers at busier times.

People must follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. Those who do have to travel over the festive period are strongly advised to check their journey via National Rail Enquiries or with their train operator.

Hundreds of Network Rail workers give up Christmas with their families to complete major upgrade at Leeds station

Hundreds of Network Rail workers are giving up their Christmases to complete a major £161million investment to build a new platform at Leeds station.

From late-night Christmas Eve until the morning of Sunday, 27 December, Network Rail teams will carry out the final piece of the project to build a new platform, Platform 0, at the station.

Work on this major investment began back in 2018. The new platform is a key upgrade which will boost reliability, allow trains to enter and exit the station more easily and mean more punctual journeys for passengers.

Over the 2.5 days of work, final work to the overhead lines, track and signalling systems will take place, as well as rigorous testing to make sure the platform is ready for train services. Whilst the platform won’t come into full use until the May 2021 timetable change, it will be available for trains to use during times of disruption, helping to minimise delays for passengers.

Adedayo Phillips is a Project Manager for Network Rail and has worked for the organisation for six years. Adedayo will be working on this project over the festive period.

He said: “I’ve worked a fair few Christmases since I joined Network Rail, however, this one is really exciting as it’s the final piece of the puzzle on a project which has been ongoing for the last two years.

“I’ll be out on site with my colleagues over the festive period, and my role will be to monitor and report on progress of this scheme, as well as others elsewhere in the region. This is an important job and will help to make sure that the project completes on time.

“I live in West Yorkshire myself, so I know first-hand the benefits which this project will bring, and I look forward to passengers reaping the benefits of a more modern and reliable railway, which will improve their journeys.”

There are no timetabled services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day on this part of the railway, so the work will not impact on train services.

People must follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. Those who do have to travel over the festive period are strongly advised to check their journey via National Rail Enquiries or with their train operator and allow plenty of time.

New line and platform promise improved services for passengers on Midland Main Line

Work to give passengers in the East Midlands and Bedfordshire access to faster journeys with more seats available on board more environmentally friendly trains has taken another step forward this week. 

On Sunday (20, December 2020) the new fourth track between Bedford and Kettering and the new platform at Wellingborough station were brought into use.  These are the latest completed improvements as part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade, which will deliver a brand new, improved timetable for passengers in 2021. 

Gary Walsh, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Midlands Route, said: “This is a really exciting time for all passengers using the Midland Main Line as we start to see the benefits of many years hard work by hundreds of people across the rail industry.

“We’re now working with our colleagues at East Midlands Railway to support driver training and the introduction of electric powered trains on the route, as well as carrying out final testing and assurance with the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). We’re well on track to deliver significant improvements for passengers next year. We’ll also be able to transport even more freight by rail, keeping lorries off the roads and supporting our economy to ‘build back better’.”

At Wellingborough station as well as building platform 4, the existing platforms have been extended and improved to reduce stepping distance onto trains.  The canopies have been refurbished, new waiting shelters, lighting, CCTV and fencing has been installed and the footbridge has been extended to platform 4. Stanton Cross Developments LLP contributed to the footbridge extension as part of its Stanton Cross development.   

Lisa Angus, Transition and Projects Director at East Midlands Railway, added: “The Midland Main Line Upgrade has been made possible by the skill and hard work of so many people, right across the rail industry. As such, these latest milestones are an incredibly proud moment for all of us.

“However, we still have a huge amount of work in front of us to deliver on this investment and introduce the major timetable enhancements in 2021. Pleasingly, despite the huge challenges Covid has created for all of us, that is also on track and we look forward to achieving further milestones in the weeks and months to come.”

Lee Barrett, Operations Director for Bovis Homes and a representative of Stanton Cross Developments LLP, promoters of the Stanton Cross project, added: “Our investment in Wellingborough station is key to the strategic vision for Stanton Cross.  We are committed to creating a sustainable new community with the infrastructure in place to provide excellent connectivity.  The upgraded station stands to benefit all those who will live and work at Stanton Cross.”

Improved reliability following emergency railway works between Ely and Peterborough

Network Rail have replaced 57 pairs of wheel timbers across four bridges in the vicinity of Manea, between Ely and Peterborough.

Following inspections on railway bridges with softwood timbers, 53 pairs of wheel timbers were found to require urgent replacement. These timbers have been replaced to remove the risk of further deterioration which may have led to additional speed restrictions or the closure of the line, significantly disrupting train services.

In addition to replacing four more pairs of wheel timbers than initially planned, 2000 metres of power cabling, 1800 metres of rail and track across Stonea bridge has also been replaced.

To maintain a safe and reliable railway, Network Rail are working with freight and train operating companies to agree a plan to return to Manea to replace more wheel timbers in 2021. These timbers are in better condition so can remain in replace until we return to complete the timber replacement. An update will be published when this plan has been confirmed.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “We’ve successfully carried out important wheel timber renewals in the Manea area to improve the reliability of the train service for passengers between Ely and Peterborough.

“Running a safe railway is my absolute priority and this work was vital to running a safe and reliable railway network for our passengers. I’d like to thank passengers for their continued patience while we carried out this work.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director said: “We understand that engineering works inconvenience passengers, but they are vital for the continued safety and reliability of our railway. Our longer modern state-of-the-art new trains, combined with continued improvement work by Network Rail are together improving our passengers’ journeys.”

As part of the work in the area Network Rail, working in partnership with Taziker, installed a defibrillator in Pymoor Village. The newly installed defibrillator is known as an Automated External Defibrillator. As the name suggests, an Automated External Defibrillator provides an automatic treatment that requires no training or special expertise. Using it cannot harm the victim, but it could save their life.

Network Rail workers give up Christmas with their families to work on major East Yorkshire bridge upgrade

Network Rail teams are spending their Christmases working on a £3.3million project to upgrade a road bridge near Gilberdyke station, instead of enjoying the festivities with their families.

From late-night on Christmas Eve until the morning of Sunday 27 December, major work will be carried out to completely remove the old bridge and put the new, stronger one in place. This will benefit residents and businesses in the area for years to come.

As usual, there are no timetabled train services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day on this part of the railway. Network Rail has taken the opportunity to carry out this major project and avoid disruption at busier times.

In order for this work to take place safely, Staddlethorpe Broad Lane will be closed near Gilberdyke station between 12:00 on Thursday 24 December and 12:00 on Tuesday 29 December. There will be no access over the bridge during this time and a signposted diversion will be in place. 

Ann White is a Scheme Project Manager and has spent the last few months carefully planning the programme of work with the team. Over the Christmas period she will be out on site to oversee the work and make sure it is completed on time and within the budget. 

She said: “I live nearby and understand how important this work to replace the bridge near Gilberdyke station is for people in the community. I’m proud to work on the railway and I am looking forward to being out with the team to complete this major project.

“It will be difficult being away from my family over the Christmas period, but once this work is complete, I’ll still have chance to enjoy some of the festivities.”

Twelve companies chosen to help build a better railway for passengers

Twelve companies have been awarded contracts to deliver buildings and civils work across Network Rail’s Southern region, which spans Kent, Sussex and the South of England.

The three-year contracts which started at the end of November 2020 cover things such as upgrades to station canopies and platforms, footbridges, earthworks which includes drainage and repairs when there has been a landslip, rewiring at stations, lift and escalator renewals and station information.

The contracts have a combined estimated value of around £200m.

As part of the process, Network Rail selected companies which are leaders in innovation and sustainability and could demonstrate a proven track record of delivering social value across the communities in which they work.

The companies are:

General building and civils: Balfour Beatty Rail; VolkerFitzpatrick; Amalgamated construction

Mechanical and engineering specialist: B & M McHugh; Quinn Infrastructure Services

Fabric specialist: BCM Construction; Lundy Projects

Footbridges specialist: Nationwide Rail; Taziker Industrial

Metallic structures specialist: Dyer and Butler; Freyssinet

Earthworks specialist: Dyer and Butler; Taziker Industrial

Masonry and concrete specialist: Nationwide Rail; Kier Integrated Services

John Halsall, managing director, Network Rail Southern region, said: “We have chosen suppliers to allow us to deliver vital new infrastructure and support the overall aims of providing a safe, reliable and efficient railway for passengers.”

VIDEO: Warning to drivers after near miss at East Sussex level crossing

Drivers are being reminded to watch for and stop when red warning lights are displayed at automatic half barrier crossings. 

It comes after a near miss at a level crossing near East Guldeford in East Sussex last month.

The incident occurred during the day on 28th November on the A259 at Star crossing near Rye. 

A driver in a Volkswagen car ignored the flashing red lights stopping just short of the railway line from Rye to Ashford and within the level crossing boundary. 

The barriers then came down on the car and the driver decided not to proceed over the railway, or to exit the crossing area for his own safety. 

A freight train then came through the level crossing at speed with the driver and his vehicle just feet away.

There has been a spike in near misses at level crossings in East Sussex in recent months with this latest incident being the 10th since June. 

Most automatic half-barrier level crossings in Kent and Sussex have safety enforcement cameras fitted with the remaining crossings due to have cameras installed soon.

This is to improve safety and encourage drivers to obeying the red warning lights as required by the Highway Code.

Toby Broyad, Level Crossing Manager for Network Rail, said: “This is a sobering reminder of the dangers of drivers not being alert when driving, and not following the Highway Code. 

“We are investing heavily in ‘Red Light Safety Cameras’ and while luckily no-one was injured in this incident, the police will prosecute drivers who take a risk at level crossings, not just with their own lives but with the safety of our staff and passengers. 

“Many of our level crossings now have safety enforcement cameras and they risk a fine and points on their license should they ignore the warnings and safety of others.”

If members of the public see anyone misusing a level crossing they are asked contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40.

Big names say a big ‘thank you’ in festive film to railway workers

High-profile figures from showbiz, sport and politics today expressed their thanks to frontline railway workers for keeping Britain moving during Covid.

“Thank you to the unsung heroes who work in the railway industry,” says Eamonn Holmes, co-host of ITV’s This Morning, at the start of a festive film shared on Twitter by Network Rail.

Steve Rotherham, mayor of Liverpool City Region, says: “You quite simply have kept the country moving.”

“Getting us to where we need to be safely this Christmas,” says actor and TV presenter Shobna Gulati before Alison McGovern, MP for Wirral South, adds: “You don’t know how much it means.”

To passengers travelling on the railway this Christmas, their message was unanimous:

“Be safe. Be patient. Be kind.”

The two-minute film features the following people:

  • Eamonn Holmes – TV talk show host
  • Bhasker Patel – Emmerdale actor
  • Lewis Moody – England and British & Irish Lions rugby player
  • Simon Calder – travel writer and broadcaster
  • Pete Waterman – president of the Railway Benefit Fund
  • Shobna Gulati – actor and TV presenter
  • Rob Bell – TV presenter and adventurer
  • Alison McGovern – MP for Wirral South
  • Tim Dunn – railway historian
  • Emma Jesson – ITV weather presenter
  • Alex Payne – host of the Good, the Bad and the Rugby podcast
  • Rosie Cooper – MP for West Lancs
  • Andy Burnham – Mayor of Greater Manchester
  • Steve Rotheram – Mayor of Liverpool City Region
  • Andy Street – Mayor of the West Midlands
  • Richie Anderson – The One Show & BBC Radio 2 travel presenter
  • David Flatman – England rugby player turned commentator
  • Shakin’ Stevens – singer and songwriter

Tim Shoveller, managing director for Network Rail’s North West & Central region, said: “I’m thrilled our frontline colleagues, including controllers, signallers, track workers and station staff, have been recognised in this lovely way. Merry Christmas from the railway family!”

The video has been release ahead of the government’s recommended Christmas travel window between 23 and 27 December.

People should reserve seats on long distance trains, travel at quieter times and follow all safety advice to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Click the following links for more information on how Network Rail upgrade work could impact your journey in the North West and Central region.

Passengers are asked to follow Government guidance around the use of public transport this Christmas.

Travellers must wear a face covering on train services and any replacement bus services. Those who fail to do so risk being fined £200.

However, some people are exempt, including young children and people with hidden disabilities or breathing difficulties.

Network Rail update – Another 8 news stories to read!

Multi-million-pound platform access improvements for Euston passengers

Passenger access is being improved to four of London Euston station’s busiest platforms as part of a multi-million-pound improvement programme.

The current layout of the ramp to platforms 8-11 acts a bottleneck resulting in an uncomfortable experience for passengers.

The £11.7m investment will see the access widened allowing more space for passengers to move from the concourse to their train.

The work coincides with other Euston station upgrades due in 2021, including new information screens and improvements to the announcement system.

The platform access improvements will start this Christmas and are expected to last until summer 2021.

During the work there will be no disruption to passengers.

Joe Hendry, station manager at London Euston said: “Over the last couple of years, passengers will have seen Euston in various states of construction as we’ve worked to improve our facilities and pave the way for HS2.

“Though we can’t make the station building bigger, this work will help us get passengers to where they need to be more effectively and efficiently. I’m confident our ongoing work to improve information systems, signage, widening the concourse and access to platforms, along with better facilities and retail offering, will make journeys through the station much smoother, easier and pleasant.

“I really care about our passengers and I’ve listened to what they have to say. I’ve been using the feedback I’ve received through Twitter and our national helpline to help shape this project.”

As the country continues to control the spread of Covid-19, Euston station is continuing its enhanced deep cleaning programme to keep passengers safe.

Hand sanitiser stations, perspex screens in offices, on buggies and at information podiums have also been installed across the station.

Passengers are asked to follow Government guidance around the use of public transport this Christmas.

Travellers must wear a face covering on train services and any replacement bus services. Those who fail to do so risk being fined £200.

However, some people are exempt, including young children and people with hidden disabilities or breathing difficulties.

For more information on the best times to travel this Christmas and work taking place to upgrade the railway on the West Coast main line click here.

Massive investment in Glasgow’s railway this Christmas

Passengers in Scotland’s biggest city are set to benefit from improved journeys in 2021 as Network Rail delivers projects to upgrade and renew infrastructure around Glasgow this festive period.

Engineers will be working on key rail lines in and around the city, relaying tracks, renewing junctions and upgrading signalling systems as part of a £16m investment in Scotland’s Railway over Christmas.

From late on Christmas Eve until the early hours of Saturday, January 2, work will be taking place at Cadder to the north of the city to replace over 1km of track and renew or refurbish 12 sets of points (rails that move to allow trains to switch from one track to another).

The team at Cadder will also be renewing signalling and overhead power equipment and upgrading points heaters, which will help stop rails from freezing during the coming winter months.

Also to the north of the city, at Greenhill Junction, work will take place over Christmas to upgrade signalling systems to make the railway more resilient and reduce delays for passengers.

These projects will have an impact on some services in and out of Glasgow Queen Street, but alternative routes between Glasgow and Edinburgh will be available.

To the south of Glasgow city centre, engineers will be working from New Year’s Day until the early hours of January 4 to renew junctions and life-expired tracks.

This will include work to renew equipment at Muirhouse junction, replace and refurbish track and other infrastructure on the approaches to Glasgow Central – near Bridge Street on the south side of the river – and within the station itself.

These works will affect some services into Glasgow Central over the New Year period.

Passengers who need to travel over the festive period are being urged to check their journey in advance. More details on services within Scotland can be found at: 2020 Christmas and New Year train times | ScotRail.

Those travelling are also reminded to continue following the Government’s COVID-19 travel guidance and if you must use public transport wear a face covering, travel at quieter times and maintain a distance from other passengers wherever possible.

Kris Kinnear, Network Rail Scotland’s capital delivery director, said: “The work we are undertaking over the festive period is vital for passengers and freight relying on Scotland’s Railway.  It is part of a £4bn investment being made in Scotland’s rail infrastructure between now and 2024.

“These projects will help make our railway more resilient, more reliable and more sustainable, but such complex infrastructure improvements cannot be delivered without some short-term closures of the railway.

“We’re urging passengers who need to travel over the festive period to plan ahead and check how these works may affect their journey this December and early January.”

Elsewhere in Scotland over Christmas, engineers will be relaying track and refurbishing structures in Edinburgh, Stirling and Inverness.

Major upgrade works taking place early in 2021 on the Great Eastern Main line

Photo by Phil Adams

Essential upgrade works will be taking place on the Great Eastern main line in January and February between London Liverpool Street station and Shenfield and on the Southend Victoria line to improve reliability for passengers.

Major renewals works will continue to replace the overhead line electrification system between Stratford and Maryland to install a new auto tension system that allows the overhead wires to adapt to temperature changes, meaning fewer delays and cancellations for passengers.

Other maintenance works will be taking place along the line at the same time on several footbridge structures at Seven Kings, Goodmayes and Brentwood as well track maintenance at Ilford and Shenfield. Works on the Southend Victoria line include track refurbishment, earthworks and removal of redundant overhead line structures.

These works will take place over the following weekends in January and February:

• Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 January 2021
• Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 January 2021
• Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 January 2021
• Saturday 06 and Sunday 07 February 2021
• Sunday 14 February 2021*
• Sunday 21 February 2021

The works will affect TfL Rail and Greater Anglia services between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield and Great Anglia services between Shenfield, and Southend Victoria/Southminster.

*Separately, track works are also taking place between Colchester and Ipswich on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February which will also affect service on the Great Eastern main line.

Passengers expecting to travel on the Great Eastern main line to/from London Liverpool Street and on the Southend Victoria line on these dates are advised to check before travelling with www.nationalrail.co.uk, www.tfl.gov.uk or www.greateranglia.co.uk and continue to follow guidance to stay COVID safe while using public transport.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia said: “We’re planning to do a lot of work early in the new year which means we have to close a large section of the main line for several weekends for which I apologise.

‘We are planning to complete the major overhead line renewals work at Stratford by Easter 2021 so that the new systems are in place for the warmer summer months, improving reliability for passengers and reducing the risk of cancellations and delays from heat related speed restrictions.’

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director, said: “A rail replacement bus service will operate while the work takes place. Passengers should allow more time for their journey and check before they travel. We would like to thank customers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

“We are already seeing the benefits of major improvement work which was carried out on the Southend Victoria line. The infrastructure is more resilient in the summer months meaning more trains are running on time. This work is the final part of the upgrade project and while there is never an ideal time for engineering work to take place, we are pleased it will be finished in time for the spring.

“We are working with Network Rail to modernise the railway in East Anglia. As part of this, we are replacing every single train in our fleet with a brand new one. The first new train on the Southend line came into service in November 2020 and we will continue with the roll out next year.

“We’d like to reassure customers that they can travel safely with us whether it be by train or bus and remind people to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth for all of their journey, including on buses, trains or stations.”

More information can be found by visiting our project webpage here: www.networkrail.co.uk/anglia-ole-renewals

Follow us on Twitter: @NetworkRailANG

Time for the 100th mural in Network Rail’s Southern region – featuring Waterloo’s iconic clock

Waterloo station’s iconic clock takes centre stage in the one hundredth community artwork project that has taken place in Network Rail’s Southern region

The mural on Station Approach Road sits outside Britain’s busiest station and features the time of 6.48pm. On a 24 hour clock that would be 1848 – the year the station opened.

Network Rail has once again teamed up with celebrated street artist Lionel Stanhope on this creation – his fiftieth for the region – who has been turning railway arches, bridges and community spaces across Kent, Surrey, Sussex and South London into stunning pieces of artwork since 2016.

His work in 2020 has included a mural for Millwall football club one for the community near Barnes Bridge and an NHS inspired mural in Southwark

Nicole Cohen-Wray, stations director for Network Rail’s Southern region, said: “It’s a fitting tribute for Waterloo station – our busiest – to be the location of our one hundredth mural.

“We own bridges and other structures across the South, Kent and Sussex and we work with community groups to turn these spaces into works of art as the murals are much nicer to look at and they also encourage people to respect and look after them.

“We’re always open to creative ways to make our railway look better and more welcoming for the neighbourhood.”

Eddie Burton, community manager for Network Rail Southern region, said: “It’s been a real privilege to be involved in some brilliant pieces of community artwork, particularly working with Lionel Stanhope, across the South of England.

“We’re looking forward to working with communities during 2021 to bring more colour to their neighbourhoods.”

Replacing the first terminus of the London and Southampton Railway at Nine Elms, Waterloo Station was opened in 1848 by the London and South Western Railway as part of extending the line two miles to be nearer the city. This original station, known as ‘central station’, had six platforms.

Network Rail to reduce level crossing risk across Suffolk

As part of plans to reduce the risks for those using level crossings and to create a safer, more reliable railway, Network Rail today announced it has been granted the powers to close or modify nine level crossings across Suffolk.

In 2017, Network Rail applied for a Transport and Works Act Order to obtain the powers to close or modify 22 level crossings in Suffolk. The Secretary of State for Transport has now granted Network Rail the powers to close or modify the following nine level crossings:

  • Island, IP9 2LP
  • Leggetts, IP14 4EY
  • Gooderhams, IP14 4HH
  • Paynes, IP23 8JE
  • Gislingham, IP14 4HX
  • Cowpasture Lane, IP23 8EF
  • Abbotts, IP23 8DN
  • Lords, IP30 9UD
  • Hawk End Lane, IP30 9ED

Gooderhams, Leggetts, and Abbotts crossings will be closed to the public once the Transport and Works Act Order comes into force. This date will be confirmed in the Order published by the Secretary of State. Users will be directed to use existing alternative routes. Signage will be provided where necessary.

Cowpasture Lane is being legally downgraded from a Byway Open to All Traffic to a Public Bridleway. Mounting blocks will be provided to assist equestrians.

Before we start work on the new alternative routes for the other five level crossings, Network Rail will work with landowners and Suffolk County Council to agree the final steps in the design process. An update will be published once designs have been confirmed. Full detail of the powers granted and a copy of the Secretary of State’s report can be found on GOV.UK.

Closing or modifying level crossings and diverting users to alternative routes will make the railway safer by reducing the number of points where people can come into contact with trains. The changes also support Network Rail in delivering a more efficient and reliable railway for the taxpayer, passengers and freight users, reducing ongoing operating and maintenance costs, and reducing delays to trains, pedestrians and other highway users.

Network Rail aims to keep disruption to a minimum while the works are completed.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “While we are disappointed to only receive the powers to close or modify nine level crossings, improving safety on the railway continues to be my top priority. As we begin work on these nine crossings, we will continue to focus on how we can further reduce the risk at level crossings across the network.

“This has been a long process and so I want to thank everyone that got involved from residents, crossing users, local businesses, politicians and the media, as together we will make the railway safer for everyone in Suffolk.”

Network Rail recently received the powers to close or modify 16 level crossings in Cambridgeshire and a similar proposal is underway covering Essex, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock, Hertfordshire, and the London Borough of Havering. 

As the project develops, the website will be updated to give further detail of each crossing closure or modification www.networkrail.co.uk/anglialevelcrossings.

Network Rail installs new, lifesaving defibrillator in rural Selby village

Network Rail has installed a new life saving defibrillator at Stubbs Walden North level crossing in the village of Walden Stubbs, Selby, following a request from the community.

In June 2019, Network Rail was asked if it would be possible to install a defibrillator at the level crossing so that it could be used by the community in the event of an emergency.

Villagers raised over £600 for the equipment, which has now been installed at the crossing, which sits on the line between Knottingley and Shaftholme. The line is predominantly used by freight services which are heading to the nearby Drax Power Station. Both Drax and freight operator DB Cargo contributed £500 each for the equipment. North Yorkshire County Councillor John McCartney put £1000 from his locality budget towards the project, which will be used for ongoing maintenance and running costs. The design of the installation was done free of charge by AGH Engineering Ltd.

Network Rail teams have carried out work to allow the device to be fitted, including installing a walkway, fencing and handrails and connecting the defibrillator to the power supply. The defibrillator is now ready to use if required.

Dawn Sweeting, Community Safety Manager for Network Rail, said: “We’re always happy to work with the community and we’re glad that we’ve enabled this life saving equipment to be installed.

“We’ve seen a real sense of community spirit here and we’ve worked with other rail industry partners and local businesses to bring this project to fruition. We hope the defibrillator never has to be used, but it’s good that it’s available if needed.”

Nina Jackson, the resident who approached Network Rail to install the lifesaving equipment, said: “I would like to thank Network Rail, Drax and DB Cargo for their outstanding community support in the village of Walden Stubbs. This together with the fundraising efforts of residents has enabled the installation of a defibrillator. This life saving equipment is invaluable, considering the remote nature of the village.”

Bruce Heppenstall, Drax Power Station Plant Director, said: “We’re proud to be able to support the communities in which we operate. Equipment like this can be life-saving, particularly for people in rural communities which are often further away from medical centres, so we’re delighted to have played a part in providing it.”

Kathryn Oldale, Head of Strategy, Policy and Communications at DB Cargo UK, said: “DB Cargo UK is delighted to have been able to contribute to this invaluable, lifesaving support for the people of Walden Stubbs, local communities and ultimately for our railway family who use the local lines.

“Having public access defibrillators in more rural settings give people who suffer a cardiac arrest in the community a chance of life because every second counts. Local residents and anyone in the area who may need immediate access to a defibrillator will now have peace of mind that one is set up and ready to go.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor, John McCartney, said: “I was delighted to facilitate a grant of £1,000 to help enable Stubbs Walden become the final community in the area to have its own lifesaving defibrillator in place. 

“It was fantastic of Network Rail to site the defibrillator at one of their level crossings in the village as they have no public buildings in the village. Without their support there would be no defibrillator in Stubbs Walden.”

Andy Hughes, Managing Director for AGH Engineering, said: “When we were approached by Network Rail with the details of this scheme, I had no hesitation in saying that we would help and offer our services at no cost.

“We undertook a site survey and produced a detailed design for the provision of the power supply. The fast turnaround of the design and the physical installation has been a great example of collaborative working between ourselves, Network Rail, the community and other partners.”

Castleford Railway Station £2.8 Million Transformation Now Complete

A project to significantly improve Castleford railway station and provide a more attractive and welcoming gateway to the town has been completed.

The improvements include better connections to the town centre and improved facilities in a new station building and have been delivered by a partnership of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Northern, Network Rail and Wakefield Council.

Improved Passenger Experience

Passengers can now make use of high-quality waiting facilities in the new station building, which comprises a ticket vending machine, new seating area, a disabled toilet, and information and retail facilities.

The car park has been refurbished and includes 65 parking spaces (including 3 blue badge spaces), CCTV, and lighting, and an improved layout to allow for easier pedestrian, cycle, and non-motorised access. There is also sheltered cycle parking, accommodating up to 10 bikes, outside the station building.

Better Links

To create a more attractive link between the rail station and residential areas in the south of Castleford town centre, the footway in the subway underpass has been resurfaced, and wall cladding, lightning and CCTV added.

New footway treatments, landscaping and signage have been added to the areas around the station and on key walking routes between the railway station, town centre and the bus station.

Funded through investment from the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund, the £2.8 Million Castleford Rail Station Gateway scheme is a joint West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Northern, Network Rail and Wakefield Council initiative.

The West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund is supported through the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of Government investment delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:

“With over half a million people using it each year and that number forecast to grow, Castleford station is a key gateway to the town.

“With its improved passenger facilities and better links with the town centre and the nearby bus station, which the Combined Authority completely rebuilt in 2016, this joint scheme has turned Castleford Rail Station into the welcoming gateway the town deserves.

“Improving the station and the spaces for people to park and ride by train will also help to reduce the damaging economic and environmental costs of congestion in our towns and cities.”

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said:

“The station is hugely important for Castleford and this investment will provide the gateway the town deserves along with better facilities for passengers that will encourage more people to use the rail network.

“I am pleased that working with our partners we have been able to secure funding and deliver this project that provides a fitting gateway to the town.”

Matt Rice, Route Director for Network Rail’s North and East Route, said:

“We are really happy to have been involved in this project as it will make a huge difference to passengers.

“The new station building provides much needed facilities and will make travelling to and from Castleford more enjoyable, as well as more comfortable, and we look forward to passengers reaping the benefits.”

Tony Baxter, Regional Director at Northern, said:

“Our customers will see big improvements at Castleford station and it now offers so much more to the community.

“I am confident that the significant improvements made at Castleford will help to enhance the overall experience for passengers – whether that’s buying a ticket, waiting for a train or getting information about our services.”

“The refurbishment is part of a larger programme taking place across our network which includes installing more CCTV, switching to energy-saving LED bulbs in all stations and improving accessibility for all our customers.”

Graffiti hotspots targeted in major railway clean-up across Anglia’s rail network

Graffiti is being targeted across Anglia’s rail network to improve its appearance for passengers and people who live and work nearby.

The clean-up operation is supporting the Secretary of State Grant Shapps’ recent commitment to improve the look and feel of the railway as part of efforts to encourage people to travel by train.

Graffiti is a blight on the railway and Network Rail spends £3.5m every year cleaning offensive material.

Those who carry out graffiti vandalism are also reminded that trespassing on the railway and committing acts of vandalism with graffiti is a crime as well as being incredibly dangerous.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “The clean-up will improve the look and feel of the rail network and I hope this will help to restore confidence as we work to welcome passengers back to travelling by train. Our goal is to make sure that everyone travelling by train feels safe and comfortable to do so.”

Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Rail minister, said: “We’ve been clear that the blight of graffiti on our railways must be tackled, and I am delighted to see Network Rail focused on dealing with the problem.

“As we build back better, removing graffiti across Anglia will improve our railway and make stations and services more pleasant for passengers.”

Trespassing on the railway and committing acts of vandalism with graffiti is a crime. There are fines of up to £1,000 for trespassing on the railway. Incidents of graffiti can be reported to Network Rail’s 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.

Building back better – Longer trains are delivering for freight customers

Trains of up to half a mile long are helping the rail freight industry deliver more goods for consumers and reduce UK carbon emissions.

Since the start of 2020, Network Rail and rail freight operators have collaborated to allow freight trains to move more goods each time they run, and to operate more efficiently on the network. The UK rail freight sector has played a vital role during the pandemic in moving critical goods such as food and medicine. With reduced demand for passenger travel, trains have been rescheduled to make better use of network capacity, unlocking benefits for rail freight customers and the UK economy.

Key highlights include:

  • Several trains have been temporarily lengthened to 775m (half a mile or over seven football pitches in length) long, allowing 12-14 more containers to be carried each time. This includes trains between Southampton and Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham, and between Daventry and Grangemouth. Together, this saves an additional six million road miles (that’s 12 trips to the moon and back) and saves 12,600 tonnes of CO2e per year.
  • Eight trains conveying aggregates materials from the Peak District and Herefordshire into urban centres have been lengthened to allow them to carry 2200t increased from 2000t, saving 750,000 road miles and 1,400 tonnes of CO2e per year.
  • Steel trains between Scunthorpe and Teesport have been lengthened allowing up to 1000t (the equivalent of 250 Asian elephants) more to be moved on each train.
  • A daily service from Mossend to Daventry is temporarily benefiting from a one-hour reduction in journey time, enabling greater productivity. A sustainable solution would release 10 twin platform intermodal wagons through improved asset utilisation.

As well as the significant carbon savings from these initiatives there is a growing body of evidence of the benefits of more efficient freight schedules on air quality emissions. Recent analysis shows that trains which are frequently taken off the main rail network and put into loops, to allow other trains to pass, emit 14-20% more NOx and particulates than non-stop freight services.

Network Rail and the freight operators continue to work closely together to identify further priorities for train lengthening, as well as services that would benefit from improved journey time. These trains will form a package of service improvements, which will be included in the development of the December 2021 timetable. In the intervening period Network Rail and the freight operators will continue to identify short-term opportunities to run longer and heavier trains, and speed up schedules, using the additional capacity created as a result of the thinning out of services.

Maggie Simpson, RFG Director General said: “Rail freight is already acknowledged for its environmental performance, but there is never room for complacency. Allowing freight trains to carry more goods and operate more efficiently on the network is an important measure for decarbonisation and for UK productivity. Working together the industry has made significant progress this year, and we look forward to seeing more trains improved in the coming months.”

Charlene Wallace, interim Director of Freight and Director of National Passenger and Customer Experience at Network Rail said: “During the pandemic we’ve seen the crucial role that rail freight plays for our economy. That is why we’ve listened to what our customers and their end users have asked for and we’re committed to getting more goods onto Britain’s rail network over the next 12 months.”

Neil McNicholas, Managing Director of UK Rail Services of at Freightliner, said: “Freightliner welcomes the support Network Rail has provided to identify capacity to run a number of longer and heavier trains. Transporting more freight on each train and speeding up journey times supports both improvements to the productivity and efficiency of services and drives further environmental benefits, by reducing the carbon emissions of each tonne of freight moved. We welcome the cross-industry commitment to continue this programme and identify further opportunities to run longer trains and improve the average speed of services.”

Roger Neary, Head of Sales at DB Cargo UK, said: “We are delighted to be working with our customers and Network Rail to make the concept of jumbo freight trains become a reality. Such services have allowed us to increase capacity for our customers while making our operations more efficient through reduced train driver and terminal resources and increased wagon utilisation.”

Chris Connelly, Managing Director of Direct Rail Services said: “Throughout this challenging year, rail freight has proved that it is absolutely essential in keeping our supermarkets and shops stocked.

“Our Mossend to Daventry trains utilise the state-of-the-art Class 88 locomotive to carry the equivalent of 38 lorry loads of vital goods the 310-mile distance with zero exhaust emissions, making it the greenest way to transport goods by far. “The new timetabling allows these services to run the same route more quickly, with less time spent waiting in sidings. The extra time helps the entire supply chain, meaning goods are on shelves sooner – fantastic for consumers.”

Network Rail carries out major work in Whitby to keep trains running reliably and safely

Network Rail teams are on site in Whitby and carrying out vital work to a railway embankment in the seaside town to prevent a landslip and keep trains moving reliably and safely.

Over the past several months, Network Rail has been monitoring the embankment, which is on the west bank of the Esk and to the south of the A171 bridge, after minor movement was detected.  Network Rail are carrying out preventive work to stop this movement and to remove the risk of a landslip.

Landslips pose a safety risk to train services and cause major disruption to services, so it’s vital this work takes place now.

As part of the work, trees and plants have been cleared from the embankment. This is necessary as trees and their roots can cause movement which can lead to landslips. Teams have also removed impacted soil from the top half of the embankment, and this will be replaced with rock.

To allow the work to take place safely, a section of the Esk Valley Walk public footpath which passes through the caravan park has been closed. The footpath at the bottom of the embankment remains open. The work will not impact on train services.

Network Rail has been in touch with residents in the area to advise them of the work, which will complete before Christmas.

Matt Rice, Route Director for Network Rail’s North and East Route, said: “Keeping passengers moving safely and reliably is our top priority, and carrying out this preventive work will enable us to keep doing that.

“The work will mean some short-term changes to a public footpath in the area, but we plan to have it back open as soon as possible.”

Hundreds of Network Rail workers give up Christmas with their families to improve railway reliability in Doncaster

Over 200 Network Rail workers are giving up their Christmases to work on a £600,000 project to improve the railway in Doncaster.

From late-night Christmas Eve until the morning of Sunday, 27 December, major work will take place to renew 320 metres of track, which runs the full length of Platform 4 at Doncaster railway station. The project will see the old rail, sleepers and ballast removed and new ones installed. Work will also take place to upgrade signalling equipment and overhead electric wires. Once complete, the work will benefit passengers through creating a more modern, reliable and resilient railway with fewer delays.

As there are no timetabled services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day on this part of the railway, Network Rail uses this opportunity to carry out major work and avoid disruption for passengers at busier times. Passengers are advised to check before travelling as there are no timetabled services or bus replacement services on Christmas Day. Major work at King’s Cross station as part of a £1.2billion upgrade also means changes to and from London on the East Coast Main Line over the festive period. Passengers can see how they may be affected by visiting eastcoastupgrade.co.uk

Ricky Collins is from Doncaster and is a Works Delivery Supervisor for Network Rail. Ricky joined the company in 2008 and will be working on this project over the Christmas period.

He said: “Over the festive period, I’ll be out on site with the team and my role will be to manage and oversee the project and make sure that the work completes on time.

“Working over Christmas can be tricky as I do have children and I love to see them opening their presents. Even though it’s a bit of a balancing act, I always make sure that I get to spend this important time with them.

“I’m really proud to work on the railway and I know how important this project is and the benefits it will bring all those who travel on this route.”

Network Rail and Greater Anglia respond to RAIB report into Norwich Road Level Crossing Incident

Commenting on the RAIB report issued today, Ellie Burrows, Network Rail Anglia route director and Jamie Burles, managing director for Greater Anglia said:  

“Since the incident at Norwich Road level crossing, together with industry partners, we have worked tirelessly to understand how and why the incident occurred, and how we can make the railway safer for those working or travelling on trains or using level crossings.  

“The RAIB findings of contaminated tracks and their impact on the rail-wheel interface is consistent with our own detailed investigations, which have helped us understand how this incident occurred and led us to a series of actions in advance of any recommendations.  

“These actions include installing new track circuit treadles on the approach to the crossings that provide extra safety protection and enabled us to remove speed restrictions. We’re also cutting back trees and vegetation next to 26.5km of tracks to help prevent leaf fall that can lead to contaminated tracks and track circuit failures.    

“In addition, we have been proactive in increasing our cleaning regime for this autumn. From 18 November, we will run an extra treatment train across our rural routes.  These trains, which already operate on the route, use high powered water to help blast the rails clear of any contamination. We will also have a dedicated leaf fall maintenance team for the Cromer branch.   

As a further precaution, Greater Anglia will be actively monitoring train wheels for contamination and undertaking any cleaning necessary during the autumn season.

“We accept the RAIB recommendations, much of which we have already undertaken.  Any incident such as this is taken extremely seriously, and we understand the severe disruption and frustration that this caused many of our passengers last autumn. We are confident that the steps we have taken together and are continuing to take will prevent a further similar incident.”  

Goring-by-Sea footbridge in West Sussex to be refurbished thanks to £511,000 investment from Network Rail

Work is well under way to refurbish the footbridge at Goring-by-Sea station and provide a safer way of crossing the railway as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.

Repairs include the renewing of staircase coverings, treads and metalwork to maintain the footbridge structure along with repainting and application of other protective coatings.

Goring-by-Sea train station was opened in 1846 in West Sussex and all services running through the station are operated by Southern.

Regular trains running from here include an hourly service to Brighton, a 2-hourly service to London Victoria, and an hourly service to Southampton Central. Trains from Goring-by-Sea can reach London Victoria in about 1.5 hours.

Passengers at Goring-by-Sea can also get on and off the full length of longer Southern trains thanks to platform extensions built by Network Rail and funded by the Department for Transport.

Built to support a new timetable during the construction of the £150m upgrade of Gatwick Airport station, longer trains are now opening their doors at Goring-by-Sea station.

Construction work on the platforms was completed earlier this year, allowing passengers to access the full length of the trains. This also means level crossings at Goring will be closed for much shorter times, cutting traffic congestion.

Shaun King, Sussex route director for Network Rail, said:

“When the work is finished, this footbridge will provide station users with a much safer way of crossing the railway at Goring-by-Sea. Work to replace the footbridge has been carefully planned to not disrupt trains while the new bridge will serve the station and passengers for decades to come.”

Angie Doll, Managing Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, said:

“On behalf of our Goring-by-Sea customers we welcome Network Rail’s major investments to improve services and safety here. This work will be complemented by our own network-wide station improvement programme, making Goring-by-Sea better for our passengers with new information screens, benches, a platform shelter and a ticket machine canopy.

“If you need to travel by train, rest assured we are working hard behind the scenes to keep trains and stations clean and safe. At all times please remember – hands, face, space. Wash your hands before and after each trip, wear a face covering and keep a safe distance from other passengers.”

The project is due to be completed in March 2021.

Network Rail Update. 8 news stories today.

King’s Cross station lights up purple to celebrate disabled people worldwide

Rays of purple light are beaming from King’s Cross railway station today (Thursday, 3 December) as the rail industry joins the global #PurpleLightUp movement and celebrates the contribution of disabled people around the world.

As well as King’s Cross station, some of Britain’s other iconic stations, such as London Waterloo, London Liverpool Street, Bristol Temple Meads, Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly are lit up in the internationally recognised colour for disability, to highlight the railways’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.

This year, the Coronavirus pandemic has bought many new challenges to the rail industry and has impacted both staff and passengers. Mask wearing and social distancing have made travelling more challenging especially for passengers with non-visible disabilities.

Network Rail has introduced a range of measures to help everyone to travel safely and with confidence during the pandemic, including taking part in the sunflower lanyard scheme to help recognise those with a non-visible disability or those who are unable to wear a face covering. The organisation has also provided hand sanitiser in its stations, installed at various heights.

Laura Murphy, Station Manager for Network Rail at King’s Cross, said: “We’re really happy to be supporting this initiative and we continue to strive to create a railway which is suitable for everyone.

“We know that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought new challenges, and we’ve worked particularly hard over recent months to ensure that disabled passengers get a good service during this difficult time.”

Network Rail employs more than 800 disabled people and aims to have at least ten per cent of leadership positions filled by disabled people by 2024¹. To attract and retain more talented disabled people within the organisation, the company is working with Evenbreak, an award-winning social enterprise, run by and for disabled people. Network Rail has also been recognised as a finalist in the RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) awards 2020 for its autism recruitment programme.

To find out more, visit: networkrail.co.uk/purple     

Birmingham New Street’s Christmas Eve meal returns as take-away for 2020

Birmingham New Street’s highly successful Christmas Eve meal for the city’s homeless is returning this year – but with a difference.

For the third year running Network Rail is teaming up with award-winning charity Midland Langar Seva Society (MLSS) to provide hot food and festive cheer for those who are struggling in the city centre this Christmas.

Since 2018, 550 people have enjoyed a three-course sit down meal and party on Birmingham New Street’s concourse.

However, holding an indoor event is not possible this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Network Rail and MLSS were determined for 2020 not to be missed, so today (3 December) the alternative plans to provide 250 take-away meals and gifts are being revealed.

Patrick Power, Birmingham New Street station manager, said: “We know holding the Christmas Eve meal for those who need help in the city centre is a highlight for them so the station team and MLSS have pulled out the stops to make sure Covid doesn’t cancel Christmas this year. 

“Because of social distancing we can’t hold the meal inside in the warm as we would like, so we’ve had to think about how to do things in a different way. We’re sure we’ll be back inside for Christmas 2021 even bigger and better than before.”

The food and gifts will be given out on the Eastern plaza between 5pm and 7pm on Thursday December 24.

A queuing system will be set up to ensure people keep at a safe distance from one another to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Volunteers from Network Rail, the rail industry and Midland Langar Seva Society will work throughout the evening to cater for up to 250 people.

This year’s Christmas Eve meal is being sponsored by Quinn Infrastructure services.

Randhir Singh, Midland Langar Seva Society co-founder, said: “Our homeless Christmas meal has been special for our service users for over seven years, with a sit down three-course meal at the Birmingham New Street station for the last two – it has been a highlight for them. Every year they look forward to it and for many months they have been asking whether the party is still going ahead due to the pandemic.

“This year will be different due to the social distancing restrictions, however we will still make it special for them by spoiling them with presents, if they are lucky, they will get a chance to have a photo with Santa.”

Neil Shearwood, managing director from Quinn Infrastructure Services, said: “We are delighted to play are part in the ‘Christmas Eve Meal for the Homeless’ for a second year now. This year, more importantly, as so many charities have really felt the effect of covid-19 on contributions.

“We hope this can bring some Christmas cheer to those who need it most and support our client Network Rail in this fantastic effort.”

Any journalists wishing to cover the Christmas Eve meal must contact Network Rail media manager Chris Halpin on 0330 854 0100 or chris.halpin@networkrail.co.uk by no later than 3.00pm on Wednesday 23 December, as spaces for media will be limited.

More reliable journeys for rail passengers following £4m upgrade

Passengers will now benefit from smoother, quieter and more reliable train journeys following a £4million investment to renew the track between Bourne End and Marlow.

Over a 16-day period, Network Rail engineers completed the multi-million-pound project to replace old, worn track with more than two miles of new railway track and sleepers, with eight level crossing surfaces also being replaced.

Several improvements were also made to the platform at Marlow station to improve passengers’ experience of using the station, including replacing the coping stones and improving the surface at the platform. 

This essential work will ensure the continued use the Marlow section of the branch line and reduce the need for multiple weekend closures in the future.

Paul Armitage, Network Rail’s project manager, said: “We are delighted to have completed this significant upgrade to the railway between Bourne End and Marlow. 

“GWR will now be able to run a more reliable train service which will be smoother for passengers and quieter for those that live next to the railway. The work also means there will be fewer disruptions for maintenance in the years ahead as the track has been substantially replaced.

“We’d like to thank passengers and those living next to the railway for their patience while we completed the work.”

GWR Station Manager for Slough and Maidenhead, Alison Hanscomb, added: “This work enables us to continue to provide vital rail services for the local community.

“We have been working hard to make sure that people can be confident to travel safely, and that includes running as many trains and carriages as we can to make extra room, as well as enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures.      

“Please do, however, plan ahead, reserve a seat and be considerate of others.”

Chairman of Little Marlow Parish Council, Councillor Valerie Brownridge, commented: “The local community welcomes the huge investment which Network Rail has made in the railway line between Bourne End and Marlow, and that both passengers and those who live by the railway will benefit greatly from the upgrade.”

London Liverpool Street station to go purple to celebrate disabled people worldwide

Rays of purple light will beam from London Liverpool Street station today (Thursday 3 December) as the rail industry joins the global #PurpleLightUp movement and celebrates the contribution of disabled people around the world.

London Liverpool Street station will light up along with some of Network Rail’s other iconic stations, including London Waterloo, Bristol Temple Meads, Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly, in the internationally recognised colour for disability, to highlight the railways’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.

This year the Coronavirus pandemic has bought many new challenges to the rail industry and has impacted both staff and passengers. Mask wearing and social distancing have made travelling more challenging especially for passengers with non-visible disabilities. Network Rail has introduced measures to ensure everyone can travel safely and with confidence throughout the pandemic. These have included:

  • The sunflower lanyard scheme, a discrete way of recognising those with a non-visible disability, or who may be unable to wear a face-covering. More than 10,000 lanyards and exemption cards have been issued to Network Rail managed stations.
  • Hand sanitiser has been provided at varying heights in stations
  • Throughout the pandemic Network Rail has continued to provide assistance to those who need extra support. Partitions have been put up on mobility buggies to keep passengers safe.
  • For Network Rail employees who’ve had to adjust to working at home, the company launched a neurodiversity pack which includes coping strategies and webinars on a range of topics, managing stress, fatigue and balancing home-schooling children while managing workloads.

Network Rail employs more than 800 disabled people and aims to have at least ten per cent of leadership positions filled by disabled people by 2024¹. To attract and retain more talented disabled people within the organisation, the company is working with Evenbreak, an award-winning social enterprise, run by and for disabled people. Network Rail has also been recognised as a finalist in the RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) awards 2020 for their autism recruitment programme.

Loraine Martins, director of diversity and inclusion at Network Rail said: “We’ve made some progress towards creating a railway that is a suitable environment for everyone. We are passionate about having an inclusive culture, so that every single passenger can travel confidently and independently and get the right assistance when needed.  And we’ve worked particularly hard over recent months to ensure that disabled passengers get a good service during this difficult time.

“We know there is still more to do which is why we have set ourselves some ambitious targets that we will be working towards between now and 2024.”

Emma Watson, station manager at London Liverpool Street, said: “We do everything we can to help all our passengers get to where they need to be. My team have worked hard over the course of the pandemic to continue to provide assistance to those who need it, in a safe manner. We have lit the station in purple to celebrate the global #PurpleLightUp movement.”

#PurpleLightUp is a simple, powerful declaration of solidarity by, and with, disabled people.

To find out more, visit: networkrail.co.uk/purple     

Passengers asked to plan ahead as rail companies work hard to support Christmas journeys

Rail companies are working together to deliver their plan for the government’s Christmas travel window, between 23 and 27 December. This includes maximising space by running more and longer services where possible, providing improved travel information and travel alerts, and extra staff on hand at busy locations to help people with their journeys. 

With all long-distance train companies now selling tickets for the Christmas travel window, passengers are being asked to plan ahead, avoid busier times and make reservations for both their outward and return journeys, where these are offered. Elsewhere, the impact of the pandemic means services on some routes are currently being finalised and people are being asked to check their train operator’s website for the latest information.  

Although the vast majority of the network will be open for business in the run up to Christmas, planning ahead is particularly important for those travelling on Boxing Day when there will be a limited service. London King’s Cross station will be closed between Christmas Day and 30 December and passengers are being told not to travel to and from the station.  

The government has also waived change of journey admin fees for advance tickets purchased before new Covid-19 tiers were announced on 26 November, enabling fee free changes and ensuring passengers are not left out of pocket for complying with the new restrictions.

As part of the industry’s safer travel pledge, rail companies are taking steps so that passengers using the network can travel with confidence, including cleaning more frequently and using powerful, long lasting, anti-viral products. Passengers should also wash their hands regularly and wear a face covering, unless exempt.  

Over £2.8bn has already been invested to improve the rail network during the pandemic when passenger numbers were lower, to minimise disruption while still keeping communities connected.  Whilst many Christmas works have been postponed, some are necessary and will need to go ahead. However all efforts have been made to organise replacement transport in the form of buses and coaches so people can still reach their final destination safely. 

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said:  

“Our frontline workers have continued to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic to maintain and upgrade the railway for those who need it and this festive period will be no different, with thousands of workers out delivering significant improvements across our infrastructure. 

“It is vital that we drive improved rail performance through targeted investment work so that the railway can continue to play its part in Britain building back better from the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions for the Rail Delivery Group said:  

“Christmas will be unusual for many and rail companies are doing all they can to bring people together during the government’s travel window, but this year more than ever we’re asking people not to turn up at a station and hope for the best. If people follow the advice to plan ahead and book outward and return reservations for longer journeys, alongside the extra cleaning, better information and additional carriages that are part of our safer travel pledge, everyone should be able to travel with confidence.” 

While the vast majority of the rail network will be unaffected by engineering works over the Christmas and New Year period, some upgrade projects are taking place, including: 

  • Significant works on the East Coast Main Line as part of the East Coast Upgrade, which will improve reliability for passengers and boost connectivity between London, the North of England and Scotland. The work is now scheduled to start later than originally planned to ensure extra Christmas Eve services can run out of King’s Cross
  • Upgrades on the West Coast Main Line that will now be completed earlier than planned – on 27 December – to enable a full Sunday service to operate from 10am rather than midday, making it easier for passengers to travel home from their Christmas bubbles. 
  • Remodelling and roof repair work at Bristol Temple Meads which will see amended timetables in operation from London Paddington, with some trains at peak times not running at all between 28 December and 1 January. From 28 December until 11 January, timetables will be amended because platforms 3-6 at Bristol Temple Meads will be out of use. 
  • Switches and crosses renewals at London Waterloo that will provide a more reliable railway for passengers in future. Platforms 12-20 at Waterloo will be closed between 27 December and 3 January, with a reduced timetable in place between Waterloo and Clapham Junction. There will also be a reduced service between Woking, Basingstoke, Guildford, Portsmouth, Southampton, Weymouth and Salisbury over the festive period. 
  • Maintenance and track renewal works at Charing Cross/Cannon Street to London Bridge and New Cross to improve passenger safety and the journey experience. Southeastern services will operate from London Bridge, and there will be a bus replacement service between Lewisham and Hayes from 27-29 December. Between 1-3 January buses will replace trains between Lewisham and Hayes and between Lewisham and Charlton via New Cross. 
  • Vital maintenance to the Great Eastern Main Line around Colchester will improve the reliability of services in the region. Engineering work will be taking place between 25 December and 3 January with rail replacement bus services running on several routes. 

Passengers can find out how their Christmas journeys will be affected with their train operator, via National Rail Enquiries, or by following #ChristmasRailWorks on Twitter. 

International Day of Disabled Persons marked in Network Rail’s Southern region with new mobility buggies and Changing Place facility

Network Rail’s Southern region is marking the International Day of the Disabled Person today with the introduction of new accessibility features at three of its largest London stations.

New state-of-the-art mobility buggies have been introduced at London’s Victoria and Waterloo stations this month.

Meanwhile, a new ‘Changing Place’ facility, specially designed for passengers who are disabled, has opened at London Bridge station this week. 

The Changing Place is reserved for passengers who are disabled, including those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, who can use the facilities assisted by their family members or carers.

They include features such as a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench, a hoist system plus a curtain for privacy from family members or carers, and specially designed toilets and sinks.

Nicole Cohen-Wray, Stations Director for Network Rail’s Southern region, said: “Our stations need to be a space where all passengers feel comfortable and confident to enter. I’m delighted by the inclusion of the new Changing Place at London Bridge, as well as the mobility buggies at Waterloo and Victoria stations. Just two of the most recent initiatives we’ve introduced to make stations open and accessible for all.” 

To access the facility, customers will need to request access when they arrive at the station and be escorted to and from the facility by a member of the station team.

Speaking about the new Changing Place at London Bridge, Antony Merlyn, Accessibility Manager for GTR, which runs Thameslink and Southern services through the station, said: “This will be a real game-changer for the many people who need it; it will make a huge difference to our disabled customers.”

Meanwhile new mobility buggies are being introduced to help disabled passengers, enabling them to have a comfortable and spacious ride through the stations’ concourse and platforms.

They replace buggies that were over 20 years old and are part of Network Rail’s mission to help passengers with accessibility needs to navigate around the station.

The new buggies have even better accessibility features such as more flexible body panels, six seats and fully opening rear doors with large grab handles.

Meanwhile, rays of purple light are beaming from London Waterloo and railway stations across the country as the rail industry joined the global #PurpleLightUp movement and celebrates the contribution of disabled people around the world.

Network Rail completes vital restoration work to Grade II listed feature at Scarborough railway station

Network Rail has completed work to protect the heritage of a Grade II listed bench at Scarborough railway station, which will make sure that it can be enjoyed by passengers for years to come. 

The unique bench, reported to be the longest in the world, is 139 metres long and is fixed to a retaining wall at Scarborough railway station, which is managed by TransPennine Express. The construction of the bench is thought to date back to 1883 when the Grade II excursion station was constructed by William Bell for the North Eastern Railway to accommodate high numbers of tourists visiting the coastal town.

The £14,500 project saw Network Rail workers replace all of the nuts and bolts which keep the bench together, as well as painting all of the cast iron supports. Work also took place to replace the timbers in the seat and backrest of the bench. The replacement timber is a specialist type of pine timber, called Accoya, which is sustainably sourced and gives a life span of 50 years.

All of the work was carried out carefully to make sure the heritage was preserved, and listed building consent was sought and accepted.

Craig Hall, Programme Manager for Network Rail, said: “This is a unique bench and we really wanted our restoration work to do it justice, so that it can continue to be enjoyed by visitors and residents for years to come. 

“We’re really happy with the results, which is testament to the hard work and dedication of the teams who carried this out.”

Mike Drewery, TransPennine Express’ Station Manager for Scarborough commented: “Scarborough railway station is steeped in history and we are very proud to be the home of the longest railway bench in the world.”

Leeds station lights up purple to celebrate disabled people worldwide

Rays of purple light will beam from Leeds railway station’s historic Dark Arches today (Thursday, 3 December) as the rail industry joins the global #PurpleLightUp movement and celebrates the contribution of disabled people around the world.

As well as Leeds station, some of Britain’s other iconic stations, such as London Waterloo, London Liverpool Street, Bristol Temple Meads, King’s Cross and Manchester Piccadilly will be lit up in the internationally recognised colour for disability, to highlight the railways’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.

This year the Coronavirus pandemic has bought many new challenges to the rail industry and has impacted both staff and passengers. Mask wearing and social distancing have made travelling more challenging especially for passengers with non-visible disabilities.

Network Rail has introduced a range of measures to help everyone to travel safely and with confidence during the pandemic, including taking part in the sunflower lanyard scheme to help recognise those with a non-visible disability or those who are unable to wear a face covering. The organisation has also provided hand sanitiser in its stations, installed at various heights.

Nick Cooper, Station Manager for Network Rail at Leeds, said: “We’re really happy to be supporting this initiative and we continue to strive to create a railway which is suitable for everyone.

“We know that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought new challenges, and we’ve worked particularly hard over recent months to ensure that disabled passengers get a good service during this difficult time.”

Network Rail employs more than 800 disabled people and aims to have at least ten per cent of leadership positions filled by disabled people by 2024¹. To attract and retain more talented disabled people within the organisation, the company is working with Evenbreak, an award-winning social enterprise, run by and for disabled people. Network Rail has also been recognised as a finalist in the RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) awards 2020 for its autism recruitment programme.

To find out more, visit: networkrail.co.uk/purple