Over the festive period more than 260 projects, valued at over £160m, were delivered across Britain. Thousands of new services and trains will soon start to come into operation this year as a result of this Christmas investment programme – bringing faster journeys, more comfort and greater reliability to the 4.5m passengers who typically use the rail network daily.
Projects delivered over the festive period include the completion of the £1bn transformation of London Bridge station which sees 54 million passengers travelling through each year. The new look station opened to the public yesterday (2nd January) – the first time it has been fully open since 2012.
The concourse is now bigger than the pitch at Wembley Stadium with new retail and station facilities and two-thirds more space for passengers. From 2019, 24 trains per hour will be able to run at peak times through the central London core, and the station will have the ability to cope with 96m people. And from yesterday (2nd January), SouthEastern services to and from Cannon Street will call at the station again, having not stopped there since 2016.
Outside of London, signalling equipment which was over 50 years old was also replaced between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, meaning more reliable journeys for passengers across the West Midlands. The £246m scheme is part of a wider £600m+ programme to upgrade signalling across the region.
As part of the Great North Rail Project, work also took place in preparation for the opening of the new platform 8 at Liverpool Lime Street and other platforms were remodelled to allow for longer trains which can carry more passengers and relieve congestion for commuters.
And in Edinburgh, platforms have been improved at Waverly and old track has been replaced between there and Haymarket which will improve reliability on this busy stretch. Once completed, the work between Edinburgh and Glasgow will increase on-train passenger capacity and reduce journey times by around 10 minutes between the two cities.
Passengers in Berkshire and Oxfordshire will benefit from more seats and better journeys as the electrification on the Great Western mainline between Maidenhead and Didcot, was delivered early. This means Great Western Railway will be able to run new trains from 2nd January. There will be an extra 4,800 seats into and out of London Paddington during the morning peak (between 0700 and 0959), a 10% increase compared to January 2017.
A number of major upgrades were carried out by Network Rail on the Great Eastern main line to Norwichout of London Liverpool Street, and on the lines out of London Paddington in preparation for the arrival of the new Elizabeth line services.
The Crossrail project is now over 85% complete and will provide new trains, better stations and quicker, easier, more reliable journeys for passengers travelling east to west once the Elizabeth line opens in December this year.
Many more projects saw new bridges built, remodelling of platforms to allow for longer trains, miles of new track installed and state of the art new signalling equipment brought online.
More than 32,000 rail workers helped to deliver the successful ten day investment programme that will improve journeys for hundreds of thousands of passengers and businesses.
Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: ‘We’d like to thank passengers for their understanding over the festive period while we worked to deliver our Railway Upgrade Plan and continue to improve both the capacity and reliability of our railway.
‘Mega-projects like this at London Bridge, as well as hundreds of smaller projects across the country will bring real benefits to millions of passengers. We have been working tirelessly across the Christmas break to deliver these improvements and I am pleased that passengers will begin to see the benefits they will bring.’
While much of the country celebrated with friends and family, Network Rail’s dedicated teams, and those of its partner contractors, worked more than 500,000 hours over the festive period when rail travel is quietest to make significant headway on improvement projects – large and small – across the network.