(Network Rail Picture)
People and businesses across the Greater Lincolnshire area will benefit from almost £100m of investment in the region’s railway this Christmas as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.
Towns in North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire and parts of Lincolnshire – as well as the busy Port of Immingham, where a quarter of the UK’s railfreight enters the country – are set to benefit from one of the region’s biggest railway upgrade plans that will provide a more reliable railway for passengers and help boost economic growth.
The investment programme will see the railway brought up to the most modern standards, creating greater reliability for existing passenger and freight services as well as increasing the capacity limits of the railway, which creates the potential for more trains to run in the future.
Following on from work started this summer, Network Rail’s ‘orange army’ will replace 100-year old signalling along 60 miles of track, upgrade 16 level crossings, build two new bridges and complete vital inspection work on dozens more, as well as carry out important maintenance work across the region during a carefully planned 17-day closure of parts of the network.
In advance of the major Christmas programme, buses will replace trains between Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes on Sunday 22 and 29 November and 6, 13 and 20 December to allow new level crossing equipment to be tested prior to being fully operational in January.
Following this, the first five days of the full project, which begins on Christmas Eve, will focus on the busy port of Immingham where for five days the rail operation will close down so the upgrade can take place. Cargo ships with rail-bound containers will enter the UK through neighbouring ports, including Hull, until the railway serving Immingham reopens on 30 December. The port will remain open for shipping movements and all other operations during the upgrade period.
For train passengers, buses or taxis will replace trains throughout the duration of the work, although not all routes will be closed for the full 17-day duration. Passengers are urged to check before they travel from Scunthorpe, Cleethorpes, Lincoln Central, Doncaster and Barton-Upon-Humber between 24 December 2015 and 11 January 2016.
With a programme of rolling road closures to allow the work on level crossings and bridges to take place, Network Rail has worked closely with highways authorities to make sure that roads are closed for the shortest time possible and that diversionary routes are clearly signposted.
A list of road closures can be found on Network Rail’s website.
Mark Tarry, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “This major upgrade of the railway has been two years in the planning with the support of the port, industry and local authorities. With the majority being carried out over Christmas – a relatively quiet time on the railway – ultimately we will reduce the amount of disruption caused.
“The result will be a state-of-the-art rail network that can not only cope with today’s passenger and freight numbers, but tomorrows too. We are creating a railway in this part of the country that passengers, customers and business can trust, and I would like to thank our neighbours and all others who will be impacted by this investment programme for their patience and understanding.”
Northern Rail’s Managing Director Alex Hynes is pleased to see investment increasing throughout the North: “Upgrading and maintaining our busy railway is the only way to ensure we continue to run reliable services for our customers. This huge investment in Lincolnshire not only benefits people but it also supports the local economy and the future of business in the North of England.”
Lord Haskins, Chair of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We are pleased to support this important investment through our Growth Deal. The Humber ports are a critical part of national infrastructure and a key component of the Northern Powerhouse. These improvements will support their future growth and provide better infrastructure for passengers and freight users for years to come.”
Ursula Lidbetter MBE, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We welcome the much needed upgrading of rail infrastructure between Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes, especially around Immingham, which is one of the UK’s busiest ports. Network Rail’s £96.5 million investment in Greater Lincolnshire, alongside other investments by both the public and private sector, will further stimulate growth and bring wider economic benefits to the area, resulting in increasing exports and jobs growth.”
Mike Sellers, ABP Port Manager Grimsby & Immingham, said, “We are working closely with Network Rail to facilitate these much-needed upgrades, which will ensure our customers and all port users enjoy an improved level of service. The Port of Immingham currently handles one quarter of all UK rail freight and is a critical link in the UK supply chain, so it’s good news that the port will remain open for shipping movements and other operations throughout the upgrade period.”
Councillor Ray Oxby, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “To stimulate further investment and growth in our area we need the infrastructure in place to make it happen. That’s why I welcome this major investment in the Greater Lincolnshire rail network, which will benefit the vitally important movement of freight and passengers in Northern Lincolnshire for years to come.”
A spokesperson for First Trans Pennine Express said: “The improvements taking place in Greater Lincolnshire will create a better railway. In order to make these, parts of the railway line will need to be closed, meaning some disruption to customers’ journeys.
“We are working with colleagues at Network Rail to ensure customers are aware of this and encourage those travelling over the festive period to visit our dedicated web page before planning their journey.
“We would like to thank customers in advance for their patience and understanding.”
RAIL PASSENGER IMPACT
- Sundays 22, 29 Nov and 6, 13 and 20 Dec
Buses replace trains between Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes
- 22.00 Thursday 24 December and Friday 25 December
All lines close. No services Christmas Day and Boxing Day as usual.
- Sunday 27 December
Buses replace trains Doncaster – Cleethorpes
- Monday 28 December
Buses replace trains Doncaster – Cleethorpes; Barton on Humber – Cleethorpes; Market Rasen – Grimsby
- Tuesday 29 December to Friday 1 Jan and Monday 4 Jan to Friday 8 Jan
Buses replace trains Scunthorpe – Cleethorpes; Barton on Humber – Cleethorpes; Market Rasen – Grimsby
- Saturday 2 Jan and Saturday 9 Jan
As above but buses also running Brigg – Cleethorpes (Saturday only service)
- Sunday 3 Jan
Buses replace trains Doncaster – Cleethorpes and Market Rasen – Grimsby
- Sunday 10 Jan
Buses replace trains Scunthorpe – Cleethorpes
- 05.00 Wednesday 30 December – freight lines reopen.
- 05.00 Monday 11 January – all lines fully reopen
Key facts about the Greater Lincolnshire Railway Investment:
- The total investment is £96.5 million
- We are upgrading 16 level crossings
- Closing 13 signal boxes and re-signalling 60 miles of track between Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes
- Replacing two life expired bridges – Station Road, Blyton and Cleatham Road, Kirton Lindsey
- Network Rail is assisting the Highways England in building a new road bridge under the railway as part of separate £90m project to improve access for vehicles along the A160/A180.
- Replacing the platform at New South Holland Station
- While the railway is shut, we’re taking the opportunity to carry out structural inspections of bridges, signals, stations and track in order to reduce more disruption in the future
- As well as inspections, we’ll be carrying out physical maintenance of the network at several locations across Lincolnshire
- Doing the work over one long period at Christmas minimises the disruption caused to neighbours, passengers and businesses by 50 per cent compared to closing the railway over many consecutive weekends
- Work starts on 24 December. Some parts of the network closed for 17 days but other sections and routes will reopen sooner. Buses and taxis will replace train services throughout the duration of the closure. Passengers are urged to check the national rail enquiries website before they travel between 24 December, 2015 and 11 January, 2016.
Key facts about the port of Immingham:
- Around 25 per cent of the UKs rail freight (by volume) comes through Immingham
- It handles up to 55 million tonnes of freight per year, including 20 million tonnes of oil and 10 million tonnes of coal
- Freight received through Immingham helps keep the lights on at home through deliveries of coal and biomass. The delivery of aviation fuel also helps power the aeroplanes that take you on holiday.
- For five days it will be closed to container ships, with freight redirected through other ports until December 30 when the railway that serves the docks can reopen. There are usually 260 freight trains going in and out of Immingham every week – but there will be none for the first five days of the project.