5 minute read – All under one roof: rail workers revive Cumbrian visitor attraction

Thousands of pounds have been spent making repairs to a Cumbrian Coast line station building which is home to a popular visitor attraction.

Network Rail has invested £30,000 to improve the roof at Millom station where the Millom Heritage and Arts Centre is based.

A leaking roof has now been fixed meaning that the much-loved attraction is ready to welcome back visiting tourists and rail passengers in time for the peak summer season.

The centre has a local social and industrial history museum, an educational rail facility, creative poetry and writing room, café, community ticket and travel information centre and a newly refurbished passenger waiting room.

Karen Hornby, head of performance and customer relations at Network Rail’s North West route, said: “When people think about the inside of a railway station, they may think of a waiting room and a ticket office. But as Millom station shows the space inside can offer so much more to the community.

“This is why I’m proud our £30,000 repairs to fix the roof will keep the Millom Heritage & Arts Centre open for business not just for the summer months, but all year round.”

Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern said: “We would like to thank Network Rail for completing this work.  Millom Heritage & Arts Centre is something for visitors to the station, and everyone in the community to embrace, enjoy and be proud of.” 

Jade Hughes, Millom Heritage and Arts Centre trustee, said “We’re extremely grateful to Network Rail for coming to our rescue. This now enables us to carry on welcoming visitors from near and far.”

Warren Birch, Cumbrian Coast Line community rail partnership officer, said “This essential piece of work provides a stability to the building that will see Millom Heritage & Arts Centre flourish for many years to come.”

Millom station is located on the picturesque Cumbrian Coast line between Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness.

This route boasts stunning views of West Cumbrian countryside, the Irish sea and enticing beaches.

Meanwhile passengers returning to the railway can travel in confidence with enhanced cleaning regimes in place.

Rail users are encouraged to wear a face covering while travelling if they can.

5 minute read – Free and fast WiFi for Liverpool Lime Street passengers

Passengers at Liverpool Lime Street station can now get free and unlimited WiFi that is fast enough to support video calls and streaming. 

Network Rail’s upgraded service uses the latest technology so passengers can connect multiple devices without having to create an account to log in.

It’s certified as ‘Friendly WiFi’ which means it complies with the Government’s safe filtering standards for the public and is child friendly.

The free connection has been introduced after feedback from railway passengers.

Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: “Passengers have told us that to enhance and improve things for them and free WiFi was a must – so, we’ve provided it. I’d urge anyone to take advantage of the new reliable and secure service when travelling through the station.

“This is the first station in the North West with the free upgraded WiFi. Next up is Manchester Piccadilly”.

The WiFi has launched in time to welcome passengers back to the railway after coronavirus lockdown measures.

Robbie Humphreys, shift station manager at Liverpool Lime Street station, said: “It’s a great improvement for our passengers -, it’s free to connect, you don’t need to enter any personal information, and it’s one of the fastest data connections you can get.

“It’s part of our wider efforts to encourage passengers back to rail travel and we can assure people they can travel in confidence. The station team has worked really hard to keep passengers safe throughout the pandemic and we will continue to do so.”

The new, unlimited WiFi service is being rolled out across Network Rail managed stations nationwide, with plans for the 19 biggest stations to be connected by the end of 2021.

For more information visit: www.networkrail.co.uk/free-wifi-at-our-stations/

5 minute read – Network Rail to connect ground-breaking 11,000-tonne tunnel near Peterborough to existing track this month

Network Rail will carry out vital work to connect a new tunnel north of Peterborough to the existing railway, ready to further improve journeys for passengers on the East Coast Main Line.

The project at Werrington will allow slower moving freight trains to dive underneath the famous passenger route.

It is part of the £1.2billion East Coast Upgrade, which has also seen major work completed to transform the track layout and reopen a tunnel at King’s Cross, making it easier for more trains to enter and exit the station.

Back in January, engineers pushed the world’s longest single underground jacked structure – an 11,000-tonne curved concrete box – into place at Werrington, in a UK first for engineering. Since then, vital work has taken place to install around 4km of track inside the new tunnel, as well as signalling equipment, without disrupting train services.

On Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 July, engineers will carry out an essential part of the project – to connect the new track to the existing Stamford lines.

During the weekend, services will continue running for passengers on the East Coast Main Line, however a section of the line between Peterborough and Stamford will be closed to allow teams to connect the tracks safely. The following changes will be in place to keep passengers moving:

  • Buses will replace CrossCountry trains between Peterborough and Leicester on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 July.
  • On Saturday 17 July, the 05:00 and 06:08 East Midlands Railway services between Nottingham and Norwich will be diverted via Grantham. These trains will not call at East Midlands Parkway, Loughborough, Melton Mowbray, Oakham or Stamford and bus replacement services will run.

Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail’s East Coast Upgrade, said: “We used challenging industry leading techniques to push the tunnel into place and our teams have continued to work around the clock to install the new track without impacting on services.

“This work to connect the tunnel to the existing lines is only possible when there are no trains running on this section of the route. We’ve carefully planned the work and have bus replacements in place to keep passengers moving. We want to thank people for their patience whilst this vital stage of the project is carried out.”

Work on the dive-under is expected to be completed over the summer, ready for train services to use it later this year.

5 minute read – Improved reliability for rail passengers between London and Southend following track works

Network Rail has replaced track and completed drainage work to improve reliability between London and Shoeburyness.

The work took place at Upton Park between Fenchurch Street and Barking and included:

  • Replacing nearly one and a half miles of rail
  • Installing 40 new catchpits, 180 new drainage pipes and 1000 tonnes of top stone to improve drainage
  • Replacing 1700 new concrete sleepers and 4,500 tonnes of ballast, the stones that make the track bed.

Like road surfaces, track wears out from constant use by trains. Engineers carry out inspections and repairs but over time the track will need to be fully replaced in order to avoid speed restrictions that cause delays. Network Rail’s engineers have been busy over the last year on a programme of track replacement across the Anglia region in order to keep services running reliably.

Drainage work is essential to keep both the track and the foundations stable to prevent delays and cancellations caused by flooding and water damage.

Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, Ellie Burrows, said: “This work is essential to keep services running safely and reliably and to minimise delays on the whole line from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, drainage work is essential to divert water away from the track and prevent the damage to equipment and embankments that cause delays.”

Passengers are advised to check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk

5 minute read – Wandsworth Common saviour gets a plaque at Clapham Junction

A blue plaque to commemorate John Charles Buckmaster who fought a campaign to save Wandsworth Common from developers has been revealed at Clapham Junction station.

The ceremony was attended by Network Rail’s chair Sir Peter Hendy, Lucy Mowatt, the deputy mayor of Wandsworth, along with Viscount Buckmaster, the great, great grandson of John Charles Buckmaster, who unveiled the Battersea Society plaque at the Network Rail managed station.

Mr Buckmaster, who lived circa 1819-1908 and whose home was near the site now occupied by the station is described on the plaque as an “educator, orator and campaigner for Wandsworth Common”, which this year celebrate its 150th anniversary.

William Robertson, Clapham Junction station manager, said “It was an honour to be part of a ceremony honouring a local legend who did so much to keep green spaces open for everyone to enjoy today.

“It was also amazing to hear speeches from Sir Peter and Viscount Buckmaster who paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of John Charles Buckmaster.”

Lucy Mowatt, the deputy mayor of Wandsworth said: “It was a privilege to welcome everyone to the unveiling of a Blue Plaque to John Charles Buckmaster. It was highly appropriate as it was 150 years almost to the day that the Wandsworth Common Act was passed in 1871, saving the green space of Wandsworth Common for the people of Battersea and Wandsworth in perpetuity.”

5 minute read – Summer staycation rail routes cleared from litter blight

North West rail workers are busy cleaning up key tourist routes in the Lake District and Blackpool ahead of the summer holidays.

Over five nights in late May and early July while people were sleeping, rail staff collected 16 bags of rubbish from St Annes and Squires Gate in Blackpool, and 20 bags from Windermere, Staveley, Burneside and Kendal on the Windermere branch line.

Network Rail and the Department of Transport are committed to make the railways more welcoming for when passengers return in large numbers to the North West’s world class visitor destinations.

Millions of pounds is spent every year removing litter, graffiti and fly tipping – money that could be better spent improving the railway for passengers.

Clean, litter-free environments make people feel safer, which is particularly important as the rail industry welcomes passengers back to rail.

Nigel McCann, North West railway planner for Network Rail said: “Litter is a big problem for the railway. It’s regularly reported to us by community rail groups, residents and politicians.

“Recognising passengers enjoy the convenience and views when travelling by rail to Blackpool or the Lakes for their holidays, we’ve used a hit squad to litter pick these key routes overnight, so we don’t disrupt vital services in the day.

“But our message to fly tippers is: the railway is not a dumping ground for litter and costs taxpayers’ money to remove.”

Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, said: “As restrictions continue to ease, we know more people will be returning to rail travel in the coming weeks, as an accessible, eco-friendly way to get around. Those all-important first glances at the stupendous Lake District views outside the train window set the scene for the holiday to come, so this large-scale litter pick is a credit to the hardworking rail workers who have been busy tidying up these key routes – enabling rail passengers to appreciate our world-class landscape at its very best.”

Cllr Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We really do appreciate the efforts made by rail staff. Litter collection is vitally important in a seaside destination and particularly at key arrival points such as car parks and railway stations.

“We hope that visitors will see the difference that has been made and will play their part by disposing of their own litter in a responsible way.”

Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, said: “As we build back better, we are committed to making our stations and services pleasant, comfortable and safe for passengers ensuring it’s ready for the return of passengers as people venture to UK holiday destinations.”

The litter blitz was part of Network Rail’s efforts to support Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean 2021.

It’s not just tourist routes being targeted. All routes across the North West have regular litter sweeps to keep embankments clean and tidy, and the track free from obstacles to trains.

For safety reasons, rubbish removal takes place overnight.

This is to not disrupt passenger and freight services that support the UK economy by transporting commuters, leisure travellers, as well as medical supplies and food.

5 minute read – Better subway and ticket barriers for Rochdale rail passengers

Improvements to Rochdale station have taken place ahead of major railway upgrades in central Manchester this summer.

A £100,000 Great North Rail Project investment has seen Network Rail strengthen the station subway’s steel and concrete ceiling which holds the track and platforms above.

The underpass below has also been repainted to welcome passengers travelling between York, Leeds and Manchester. 

In the coming weeks £30,000 accessible ticket barriers will be installed for wheelchair users, families with prams or people with heavy luggage.  

This is ahead of closures between Stalybridge and Manchester Victoria, and Rochdale and Manchester Victoria, from 31 July to 15 August, as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) when railway bridges will be replaced and track upgraded. 

Passengers are being urged to plan their journeys in advance at www.nationalrail.co.uk

Karen Hornby, head of customer relations and performance for the North West at Network Rail, said: “Our £130,000 subway makeover and ticket barrier improvements are part of the Greater Manchester stations’ accessibility plan to provide better and safer travel for passengers using Rochdale station. 

“Further improvements on the Calder Valley line are planned as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) with a major milestone taking place later this summer to upgrade track and railway bridges in central Manchester. Passengers looking to travel between 31 July and 15 August are being urged to plan ahead.”

Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern, said: “The completed work looks fantastic and is a great example of the rail industry working together to improve the regions railways.

“Thank you to our customers for their continued patience. We are sorry for any disruption during the improvements and our customers can be assured that both Northern and Network Rail will do everything possible to minimise the impact of the work and deliver alternatives that keep people on the move.”

Councillor Mark Aldred, chair of the Greater Manchester Transport Committee, said: “The Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) is a really exciting project that will transform the customer experience for train users across Greater Manchester and throughout the north of England.

“From better and more reliable journeys to upgraded stations; whether you catch the train all the time or every now and again, there is a lot to look forward to.

“We know accessibility is a significant barrier at many of our local stations, so we particularly welcome the investment being made at Rochdale and hope it helps open up public transport – especially local rail services – for even more people to enjoy.” 

Improvements are planned Saturday 31 July – Sunday 15 August as part of the TRU. 

TRU is a multi-billion-pound programme of railway upgrades that will radically improve connectivity in the North of England – providing faster, more reliable services for passengers travelling between York, Leeds and Manchester.

For more information on the Transpennine Route Upgrade visit: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/railway-upgrade-plan/key-projects/transpennine-route-upgrade/

Stretching across the North of England between York and Manchester, via Leeds and Huddersfield, the 76-mile Transpennine railway serves 23 stations, crosses over and dips under 285 bridges and viaducts, passes through six miles of tunnels, and crosses over 29 level crossings.

TRU will transform this line into a high-performing, reliable railway for passengers with greater punctuality, more trains and improved journey times. The scale of the project means that there will be planned disruption to train services to enable work to be carried out, but we are committed to keeping passengers moving on a train as often as possible, on time and in comfort as a key priority.

In July 2020, the government announced £589m of funding to kickstart the programme. A further £317m investment was announced last month, totalling £906m.

Travel advice for the period 31 July and 15 August is as follows:

Train:

Passengers travelling Leeds – Manchester Victoria via Todmorden and Rochdale

  • Trains will start/terminate at Moston station.
  • Express buses will run between Rochdale and Manchester Victoria and between Manchester Victoria and Moston*

*there will be no calling buses between Rochdale and Moston

Passengers travelling Ashton-under-Lyne – Manchester

  • Trains will not run, but Metrolink services will be available to/from Manchester Piccadilly (apart from Saturday 14 and Sunday 15August*)

*Metrolink services will not run on the Ashton line on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 August due to engineering work, but replacement buses will be in place.

Passengers travelling Liverpool Lime Street – Newcastle

  • Trains from Liverpool Lime Street will be diverted to run to/from Manchester Airport via Manchester Piccadilly. Newcastle services will start/terminate at Manchester Piccadilly for onward connections

Passengers travelling Manchester – Leeds/York/Hull/Redcar

  • Trains will divert to/from Manchester Piccadilly only

Passengers travelling Stalybridge – Manchester via Guide Bridge

  • Trains between Leeds (via Huddersfield) and Manchester Piccadilly will divert via Stalybridge and Guide Bridge.
  • Buses will run between Stalybridge, Ashton-under-Lyne and Guide Bridge


Metrolink:

Essential maintenance works are taking place across the Metrolink network at the same time to minimise overall disruption to passengers.

  • Between 31 July and 9 August, 14 – 16 August and 21 – 23 August, no services will operate through Victoria.
  • In addition, the Metrolink Eccles line will be closed between 19 July and 1 August and there will be additional changes to some services while work is carried out near to Piccadilly Gardens between 31 July and 6 August.
  • A bus replacement service will be in operation and additional staff will be out across the network to help customers.

5 minute read – Freak flash floods swamp subway and lifts at Preston station

Passengers are being advised about urgent repairs to Preston station’s lifts and subway after they were damaged by freak flash flooding.

Intense rainfall at platform level made its way into the subway which serves four station lifts on Monday evening (12 July).

All the lift shafts were affected and engineers are working as fast as they can to pump out remaining water and clear the debris so urgent repairs can be made to the lift mechanisms.

Network Rail aims to get the lifts back in action within the next week as a priority for passengers needing level access to platforms.

Step-free access is still available to Preston’s platforms using ramps in the second station subway.

Robert Ellams, senior asset engineer for Network Rail, said: “We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to passengers while we get the lifts at Preston station back up to full working order after heavy rainfall this week.

“I’d urge people to plan their journeys with their train operator while we carry out these urgent and complex repairs to better protect the lifts from freak incidents like this and make them more reliable for passengers in the future.”

Shirley Ross, Avanti West Coast station manager at Preston, said: “We are working closely with Network Rail and industry partners to help customers as urgent repairs to the lifts at Preston station are carried out. Our teams are on hand to assist customers travelling to and from Preston 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 get the lifts back to full working order.”

During the lift closures, rail travellers who need lift access are advised to speak to station staff or to contact their train operator’s Passenger Assistance team:

  • Avanti West Coast’s Passenger Assist team – 08000 158 123
  • Northern’s Passenger Assist team – 0800 138 5560
  • TransPennine Express’ Passenger Assist team – 0800 107 2149

For more information on how Network Rail deals with flooding visit: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/looking-after-the-railway/delays-explained/flooding/

5 minute read – Shoreham-by-Sea station receives makeover with £708k upgrade and achieves carbon reduction of 37%

Major repair and refurbishment work has been completed at Shoreham-by-Sea to upgrade and improve the station for passengers while helping the environment.

Shoreham-by-Sea station was one of the earliest stations to open in the south of England, coming into operation in 1840. It serves both the West Sussex seaside town and Shoreham Airport (also known as Brighton City Airport), which lies about a mile to the east.

A trial of using HVO fuel while upgrading the station has helped reduce the amount of carbon produced at the site by 37%. Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) is an advanced renewable fuel made from pre-existing bio-waste products such as used cooking oil, waste plant and organic matter. 

While it currently costs more than red diesel, it reduces net CO2 greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90%. 

The works include:

  • Replacement of roof sheets on both platforms to keep passengers dry
  • Replacement of gutters and downpipes which will reduce the risk of flooding
  • Timber valance board replacement to protect the canopy roof
  • Replacement of fascia boards which stop water from penetrating the roof
  • Prep and painting of canopy metalwork and timberwork to protect the structure

The station has a staffed ticket office which is open for the majority of the day on all days as well as self-service ticket machines available. The station also has a passenger waiting room, café and toilets which are open when the station is staffed.

Both platforms and the waiting room have departure boards as well as modern help points and are both fully accessible with step-free access available throughout the station.

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

“This upgrade has made a big difference to Shoreham-by-Sea station by improving the experience for passengers. These improvements are a vital aspect of our work to provide a safe, reliable and efficient railway.

“Shoreham-by-Sea was also the first project in Sussex to use recycled cooking oil instead of diesel fuel, allowing engineers to reduce the amount of carbon produced at the site by 37%. These actions help Network Rail work towards its goal of Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050.”

The station’s most frequent service is eastbound to Brighton, with four trains per hour. An additional half hourly service runs to London Victoria, taking approximately half an hour. Regular trains also run westbound to Littlehampton, Southampton Central and Portsmouth Harbour.

Chris Fowler, Southern’s Customer Services Director, said:

“On behalf of our customers, we welcome Network Rail’s investment to restore and protect the fabric of the station buildings at Shoreham-by-Sea, and thank them for the care taken to minimise disruption and use low-carbon energy.

“As restrictions ease and more passengers return to the station, they’ll also be able to enjoy a package of enhancements we’re making as part of our own network-wide, multimillion-pound station improvement programme. These include new seats and platform shelter, refurbishing the waiting room, and refreshing the landscaping.”

5 minute read – West Coast main line flood repairs to impact London Euston trains

Rail passengers are being warned of changes to trains in and out of London Euston so urgent repairs can take place after severe flash flooding.

The deluge in the capital on Monday 12 July caused an electricity substation to catch fire disabling London Overground services to Watford.

Urgent repairs need to take place to pump away any remaining standing water and fix cables damaged in the electrical fire.

The work means all lines in and out of London Euston must be closed between 11pm on Wednesday 14 July and 6am on Thursday 15 July. Passengers are being asked to travel early on Wednesday night.

The urgent repairs will impact Avanti West Coast, London Northwestern Railway, Caledonian Sleeper and London Overground passengers at the end of tomorrow and first thing on Thursday morning.

Bus replacement services will be in place to keep passengers on the move and people are being urged to check www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest information.

James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast South route director, said: “I’m sorry that your journeys have been disrupted this week. Our engineers will be making critical repairs on Wednesday night. 

“The floods made the railway look like a swimming pool, but with 750 volts of electricity running through it. We’ve had to make the site safe before going in and pumping away the remaining flood water and repairing the fire damage.”

For more information on how Network Rail deals with flooding visit: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/looking-after-the-railway/delays-explained/flooding/