THE EASTER and May Day Bank Holiday weekends have seen Network Rail complete further significant programmes of engineering work across the country.
The four-day Easter bank holiday saw over 13,000 people deliver more than £72 million of work across 400 different projects. The three-day May Day weekend also saw over 13,000 people at work to deliver more than £40 million worth of work across 440 projects.
One of the main achievements over the two weekends was at the eastern end of the Elizabeth Line route, with TfL Rail services now running through to Shenfield again (‘Crossrail Update’). The work formed part of preparations for the introduction of new Class 345 EMUs on the route, planned for late May. Accompanying Crossrail works included renewals at Pudding Mill Lane and alterations relating to access to the new depot at Old Oak Common in west London.
South of the capital, the Waterloo upgrade and Thameslink projects saw further progress. At Waterloo, the Easter possession allowed track renewals to take place ahead of the major blockade of platforms 1-4 planned for a three-week period in August. Connected to this was progression of power upgrade works in the Guildford area over the May holiday to allow longer 10-car trains to operate on the suburban lines. On Thameslink, the Easter weekend saw the commissioning of the Cannon Street lines onto their final alignment through the new platforms 1 and 2 at London Bridge, followed up in May by installation of switches and crossings in out-of-use lines and commissioning of a sub-station.
A lengthier closure took place at Bath Spa station for widening of the platforms in preparation for the introduction of longer Inter-city Express (IEP) trains. NR says the work, carried out between 8 and 23 April, means the stepping distance from platform to train will reduce by up to 50%. A reduced service operated through the station on weekdays, with a full closure at weekends.
The Northern Hub alliance also utilised an extended closure of 11 days to progress work on the Ordsall Chord, connecting Manchester’s Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria stations. The Easter blockade saw work at Victoria West (next to Manchester Victoria station) and on Middlewood viaduct, where new tracks were installed. A 54-hour possession two weeks later saw the Up and Down Chat Moss lines rewired along with associated crossovers from Deal Street Junction to Middlewood viaduct.
In Scotland, the Easter holiday saw an underbridge on the Carmuirs branch line near Falkirk renewed and 14km of railway resignalled in the Motherwell area, with control of 31km of railway transferring from Motherwell signalling centre to the West of Scotland signalling centre in Glasgow. Further commissioning will follow on this project in 2018. The May holiday saw new points installed at Elgin, on the Aberdeen to Inverness line, forming an extended loop as part of the line’s upgrade to enable a more frequent service to operate.
Other projects progressing during the two holiday periods included drainage works in Sevenoaks Tunnel, overhead line renewals in the Seven Kings area on the Great Eastern main line, installation of the subway underpass at Hackney Wick station, replacement of an overbridge at Albrighton station on the Birmingham to Shrewsbury line, linespeed improvement work at Micklefield Junction in Yorkshire and progression of the Weaver to Wavertree resignalling project in the North West of England. A significant number of track renewal works were also completed by NR over the course of the two weekends.