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Railhub Archive
1999-12-15 RTK-001
Railtrack plc


Railtrack announces significant new proposals for the modernisation and upgrade of the West Coast Main Line

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Railtrack plc

Railtrack announces significant new proposals for the modernisation and upgrade of the West Coast Main Line

15 December 1999
source Railtrack plc
type Press release

Railtrack yesterday submitted its proposals to the Regulator for the expansion and upgrading of the West CoastMain Line and its proposals for funding. The upgrade will substantially increase capacity on the 400 mile route betweenLondon Euston to Glasgow and Edinburgh, which currently represents 15% of the UK rail network and carries over 2,000 passenger and freight trains a day.

The proposals announced today set out a ten yearprogramme to improve safety and punctuality, modernise thetrack and signalling, expand capacity and reduce journey times. The cost of this is estimated to be £5.8bn. The Project is broken down into a number of phases.

Phase 1 to deliver increased train speeds to 125mph by 2002.

This phase, estimated to cost £1.8 bn, is well underway and on schedule to be completed in 2002.
To improve safety,over 900 signals will be fitted with Train Protection Warning System (TPWS). Major remodelling works are taking place a tEuston, Willesden, Proof House Junction, Stoke and Manchester South.

Phase 2 To Deliver increased train speeds of 140 mph and increased capacity by 2005 and meet the commitments set out inthe agreement with Virgin Rail.

For phase 2 Railtrack will renew the existing lineside signalling and overlay on this a modern transmission-based signalling system that meets the European standards for interoperability (ERTMS). Together with associated infrastructure works this will increase capacity on the route, enable Virgin trains to run at 140mph and provide full Automatic Train Protection on the fast lines by 2005.

Following the completion of works to meet the Virgin commitments in 2005, Railtrack will continue the programme with further infrastructure investment at Watford, Trent Valley, Nuneaton and Northampton to increase capacity for the other users of the WCML by 2007.

This decision, combined with higher renewals expenditure, will result in a significant increase in the cost of phase 2of the WCML Upgrade to £4bn. The original plan was to upgrade the WCML using 'moving block' signalling. Over the past year Railtrack has been reviewing the feasibility and reliability of this new technology. The results of this study, combined with the experience of the Jubilee line's failure to successfully implement 'moving block' technology, has led Railtrack to conclude that the increase in speeds and capacity can be reliably and safely delivered by using proven lineside signalling technology together with the ERTMS overlay and additional infrastructure.

Detailed cost estimates for Phase 2 have been prepared by Railtrack and its consultants and reviewed by Parsons Brinkerhoff and Ernst & Young.

The upgrade will substantially increase capacity for passenger and freight trains and reduce journey times between the major cities served by the line.

Euston to 1999 2002 2005
Birmingham New St 1h35 1h20 1h10
Manchester 2h30 2h 1h50
Liverpool 2h45 2h 1h50
Holyhead 4h25 3h35 3h25
Glasgow 5h15 4h05 3h55
Edinburgh n/a 4h10 4h

Gerald Corbett, Chief Executive of Railtrack, said: 'TheWest Coast Mainline needs upgrading. These improvements will deliver better safety and punctuality, modern track, higher train speeds, reduced journey times and substantially increase the capacity on the line. The critical decision has been the choice of signalling system. The moving block system has notd eveloped as anticipated, is unproven on a route of this scale and importance and failed on the Jubilee line. Adopting this technology would represent an unacceptable risk.

'To be sure of delivering the modern and improved railway which meets our commitments and the needs of our customers and the travelling public, we have opted for a proven technology, albeit at a higher cost. We now have to sit down with our customers, the SRA, the Regulator and Government to agree the detail of the programme and its funding and its impact upon the overall investment available for the railway.

A presentation to analysts will be held at Railtrack House, Euston Square,London, NW1 2EE at 12.00 noon today.

Railhub Archive ::: 1999-12-15 RTK-001


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