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Railhub Archive
2002-10-09 SRA-001
Strategic Rail Authority


Substantial passenger benefits delivered by 2004 and maintenance backlog eliminated by West Coast plan

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West Coast Main Line
West Coast Main Line modernisation

Phrases in [single square brackets] are hyperlinks in the original document

Phrases in [[double square brackets]] are editorial additions or corrections

Phrases in [[[triple square brackets]]] indicate embedded images or graphics in the original document. (These are not usually archived unless they contain significant additional information.)

Strategic Rail Authority

Substantial passenger benefits delivered by 2004 and maintenance backlog eliminated by West Coast plan

9 October 2002
source Strategic Rail Authority
type Press release

under a new strategy for the West Coast Main Line route modernisation
project, unveiled for consultation by the Strategic Rail Authority today. It
shows how the SRA, working with the industry, plans to get a grip on this
project, which had suffered from serious difficulties and lack of leadership.

The benefits of the new strategy include :

125 mile/h route capability for tilting trains delivering much faster
journey times
Capacity for 80% more long distance passenger trains than today
Capacity for 60 - 70% more freight traffic than at present
Capacity for other users of the route, in some cases with enhanced
capacity and in others with faster journey times
Better and more resilient performance
Improved safety measures

The first improvements will come on stream in Autumn 2004 :
Doubling, to four trains an hour, the existing London - Birmingham
service to boost frequency and provide125 mile/h service
125 mile/h running - taking half an hour off the Manchester -London
journey time

By 2006, when both the upgrade and the renewal programmes will be
substantially complete and Glasgow - London journey times will be cut by 45
minutes. The final elements should be in place by 2008, allowing for a further
expansion of rail freight services and all round performance improvements.
The key commuter flows on the route will be protected and gain more seats
and Northampton will gain some new fast Pendolino services.

Working together, in partnership with the rest of the rail industry, the SRA and
Network Rail, together with the co-operation of the passenger & freight
operating companies, can now set about delivering this much needed project
with a new purpose. The emergence of the SRA as specifier and project
sponsor, and Network Rail as the delivery agent, marks a vitally important
shift from Railtrack as both client and deliverer.

Commenting on the Strategy, SRA Chairman, Richard Bowker said:
" Today's announcement is about the renewal of 780 miles of railway and the
elimination of a 20 year maintenance and renewal backlog in the shortest
practical time. We are proposing a strategy that gets a grip for passengers,
taxpayers and freight companies. It delivers reliable, high quality, Inter City
services alongside the expanding commuter and freight sectors. Once work is
completed, the West Midlands, North West, Scotland and the Northampton
lines to London will see material benefits."

The work is in two parts:

The bulk (over 75%) of the expenditure required to return the West
Coast Main Line to acceptable modern standards is to be spent on
making good a backlog of renewals and replacement to address the
legacy of under-investment and maintenance since the route was last
upgraded. While it will be for the Rail Regulator, in his recently
announced interim review, to settle on the price, current estimates for
the renewal work (of which over £2 billion has already been spent) are
around £7.5 billion.

The upgrade and transformation of a line with limited capacity and a
maximum line speed of 110 mph into a modern high speed railway with
substantially increased capacity for passenger and freight trains, plus
125 mph tilting trains, will be achieved for around £2.3 billion.

Welcoming the document, Network Rail's Chief Executive, John Armitt added:
"We welcome this consultation process which offers a framework for reaching
final decisions on the future of WCML.

"The SRA is taking a strong and welcome leadership role on the upgrade of
the West Coast Main Line. Network Rail will work with the SRA to deliver the
revised scope of this massive engineering task."

Click here to view the full West Coast Strategy Consultation Document.

Notes to Editors:
1. 140-mile hour tilt running on WCML is the subject of further analysis
and examination.
2. Throughout the route modernisation process, the principal long
distance network will be kept in place - every day - for the main routes
London - Birmingham; London - Manchester; London - Glasgow. A new
service has been designed for Manchester - London (operating to St
Pancras) for 2003 /4 which will help sustain and develop this key rail
market in advance of the major uplift to follow in Autumn 2004 on the
West Coast itself.
3. As announced on 29 August, there will be temporary closures on some
specific sections of line, starting Summer 2003, to enable the
necessary work to be completed much more quickly. Coupled with
improvements to diversionary routes and services, such as the
electrification of Crewe - Kidsgrove, this will enable the majority of the
improved outputs to be delivered by late 2004.
4. The strategy consultation ends on 16 December 2002. Work on
implementing the final strategy is expected to start in January 2003.
5. Instead of weekend closures, the work programme is based around a
series of projects, including two 17 total week line possessions, the first
from Colwich in Staffordshire via Stoke-On-Trent to Cheadle Hulme,
just south of Stockport, from 17 May 2003. The second is currently
scheduled for early 2004, running from Crewe to Cheadle Hulme.
6. It will deliver more than 780 miles of upgraded railway while 585 miles
of overhead line equipment will have been renewed along with over
1000 switches and crossings.

Railhub Archive ::: 2002-10-09 SRA-001


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