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Railhub Archive
2005-12-06 NET-001
Network Rail


Network Rail delivers 125mph railway for West Coast Main Line

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Network Rail

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Network Rail

Network Rail delivers 125mph railway for West Coast Main Line

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6 December 2005
source Network Rail
type Press release

note NRHQ2005073

o Journey times cut by over 40 minutes
o Maximum speed increased from 110mph to 125mph

Network Rail today announced the completion of the next stage of the vital upgrade work on the West Coast Main Line. Virgin’s tilting Pendolino trains will now be able to travel at up to 125mph, for the entire London to Glasgow route from 12 December 2005.

This major milestone in the £8bn upgrade of Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway is a major achievement for Network Rail, owner and operator of the UK’s railway infrastructure, and is indicative of the turnaround since the project was re-scoped in 2002.

This is the third milestone to be hit on time and on budget as the industry has worked together to deliver a railway of which Britain can be proud. Journey times along the entire route have been significantly reduced:

· London to Glasgow now takes under four and a half hours, down from more than five hours
· London to Manchester takes just over two hours, cutting travel times by 23% since 18 months ago

The performance and reliability of the infrastructure have already shown massive improvements for passengers, with a 55% reduction in delays this year on the busiest section of the line south of Birmingham.

Almost 1,000 miles of track have been re-laid in three years along a route that, before the improvement programme began, had been starved of investment for decades. Since 2002, more than 10,000 people have been working on the upgrade every single weekend. Between them, more than 60 million hours have been worked.

John Armitt, Network Rail’s Chief Executive, said: “The completion of this major piece of engineering work is more evidence that Network Rail can consistently deliver the largest scale projects.”

“Most importantly, passengers are now starting to reap the benefits of all the nights, weekends and holidays that our engineers have worked over the past few years. We now have a railway that rivals the airlines on city centre to city centre journey times. It is an achievement of which we can be truly proud.”

The first stage in the West Coast Main Line improvement programme, delivered in September 2004, was an upgrade to the section between London and Manchester, allowing trains to travel at up to 125 mph. In June this year, the second section of works between Crewe, Preston and Liverpool was completed.

This week saw the final sections of work completed in Scotland and the North West to allow 125mph running. A new timetable reflecting all the work done along the route in recent months will be introduced next week.

The project now moves into a new phase that will see a number of major projects along the route deliver further journey time savings and increased line capacity by 2008. These include: a £300m scheme to double the number of track through the Trent Valley; a £190m project at Rugby to relay the tracks and rebuild the station; and a £200m project in the North West between Sandbach and Wilmslow to replace the signalling system.


Notes to Editors

1. Built in the 1800s, the West Coast Main Line has developed into the UK’s busiest mixed traffic railway (responsible for 43% of Britain’s UK freight traffic) and is recognised as a leading European rail artery. Responsible for over 2,000 train movements each day, the route also caters for over 75 million passenger journeys per year

2. The West Coast Main Line comprises some 1,660 track miles, 2,800 signals including 13 major junctions and 10,000 bridge spans

3. The modernisation project is costing £8 billion and introduced a 125mph railway with tilting train operation by September 2004, with additional line speed improvements further north in 2005. The project is scheduled for completion 2008/2009

4. The West Coast strategy, published by the SRA in June 2003, provided firm objectives and guidance and provided a basis to turn around what was an uncoordinated and undeliverable programme

5. The West Coast upgrade will cost approximately £8bn. So far about £6.5bn has been invested
6. Scale of the Programme, what has been delivered:

· Composite track renewals 1,030 miles
· Switches & crossings (point ends) 427
· Point ends heavy maintenance 179
· Overhead line wire replacements 711
· Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) Fitments 1,531
· Signals - (move, renew, install) 853
· Signalling cable 1,565 miles
· Additional Access Points 249
· Safe cess walkways 295 miles
· Security fencing 136 miles
· New Bridges/bridge reconstruction/ 45
resonance mitigation

7. Network Rail is the 'not for dividend' owner and operator of Britain's railway infrastructure, which includes the tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, level crossings and stations – the largest of which we also manage

8. Network Rail is working to rebuild Britain’s railway and provide a safe, reliable and efficient rail infrastructure for freight and passenger trains to use

9. Our website:

For more information, or images contact:

Greg Moore
T: 0870 420 3217
M: 07748 968695
E: or

For interviews or technical project comment contact:
Steve Turner at Network Rail
T: 0207 904 7322
M: 07919 307760

Railhub Archive ::: 2005-12-06 NET-001


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