Over 15,000 members of Network Rail’s Orange Army will be working over the four-day Easter weekend to deliver a £60m slice of the company’s £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers and businesses.
New station facilities, longer platforms, extra tracks, new junctions and thousands of pieces of new, more reliable equipment will be installed and delivered in a programme that will begin late on Thursday, 24 March, once the last trains have run.
More than 450 separate improvement projects will be carried out by Network Rail and its team of contractors across Britain over the period, the majority of which will have no impact on passengers. Where there are changes to services as a result of upgrade work, a comprehensive advertising campaign is under way to make sure passengers are able to make informed decisions about their travel over the Easter weekend.
Eleanor Lawrence, an apprentice technician, is the face of Network Rail’s nationwide ‘Check Before You Travel’ campaign which uses posters, billboards and digital screens at stations, as well as online, radio and print adverts to urge people to check for changes to their journeys over Easter.
“I’ll be celebrating Easter and eating chocolate with dozens of other members of the Orange Army while doing essential work to keep the railway safe and reliable for passengers.
I’ve been interested in the railway since I was very young, but since I joined the industry I’ve been amazed and inspired by the people around me and their commitment to make the railways better.
This is such a worthwhile job and makes a difference to so many people and carries such a huge responsibility to keep people safe and provide a good, reliable service. It’s a job and a career that really matters.” (Eleanor Lawrence, apprentice technician, Network Rail)
The work is timed to take advantage of a relatively quiet time of the year when, on average, fewer than half the usual 4.5m people use the railway each day – enabling Network Rail and train operators to minimise disruption as much as possible.
Over the Easter weekend, Manchester Victoria and Salford Central stations will be closed for 11 days from Thursday 24 March to Monday 4 April to remodel the railway, improving rail links in the north. Alternative stations will be available, such as Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road, as well as bus replacement services.
Glasgow Queen Street station (high level) will be closed for 20 weeks from 20 March, for the renewal of more than 1,800m of slab track within the Queen Street Tunnel, with services diverted to the low-level station or other Glasgow stations in many cases.
In and around London over the Easter bank holiday, there will be overhead line renewals and Crossrail work on the Great Eastern Main Line, affecting services from London Liverpool Street, while in the London Bridge area there will be continuing Thameslink work. Services will be reduced on the Brighton Main Line due to major renewals at Battersea, which will also mean there will be no Southern services from London Victoria. The Chatham Main Line will be partially closed due to East Kent resignalling, and there will be reduced train services between Paddington and Reading while Crossrail and Great Western Main Line electrification work is under way.
There will be changes to services on the East Coast Main Line on the Saturday and Sunday of the Easter weekend, with a line closed south of Peterborough.
The Stafford Area Improvement programme will also reach a major milestone over Easter with some work on the Norton Bridge flyover before it is brought into use. Most long-distance services on the West Coast Main Line will be diverted by Stoke, but other services will see significant changes.
Although most of the network will be unaffected by planned improvement work, passengers are advised to check their journeys beforehand on the National Rail Enquiries website if travelling over Easter.
Mark Carne, Network Rail chief executive, said “I’m acutely conscious that many people want to use the railway during the Easter holidays, but with fewer people travelling by train over this four-day weekend, it is a good time to undertake these massive improvement projects.
The vast majority of services will be unaffected by this programme, with over 95 per cent of the network open as normal.
Passengers have shown themselves to be incredibly understanding of planned improvement work and I’d like to thank them in advance for their support and understanding as we deliver the big improvements that the travelling public want to see.
The number of people travelling by rail continues to grow to record levels. Our work this Easter forms a key part of our Railway Upgrade Plan to meet surging demand and improve and expand our congested railway network.”
(Source: Network Rail)