(Network Rail Image)
Hundreds of thousands of passengers and freight users are set to benefit from one of the biggest Easter investment programmes ever carried out on Britain’s rail network.
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Over 15,000 members of Network Rail’s orange army will be working over the four-day Easter weekend to deliver a £60m slice of the company’s £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers and businesses. The railway, however, remains firmly open for business as the vast majority of services will be unaffected by this programme with over 95% of the network open as normal.
New station facilities, longer platforms, extra tracks, new junctions and thousands of pieces of new, more reliable equipment will be installed and delivered in a programme that will begin late on Thursday, 24 March, once the last trains have run.
Over 450 separate improvement projects will be carried out by Network Rail and its team of contractors across Britain over the period, the majority of which will have no impact on passengers. Where there are changes to services as a result of upgrade work, a comprehensive advertising campaign is under way to make sure passengers are able to make informed decisions about their travel over the Easter weekend.
The work is timed to take advantage of a relatively quieter time of the year when, on average, fewer than half the usual 4.5m people use the railway each day – enabling Network Rail and train operators to minimise disruption as much as possible.
Mark Carne, Network Rail chief executive, said “This Easter, our 15,000-strong army of rail workers will be working round the clock to deliver our Railway Upgrade Plan, providing better, more reliable journeys for passengers and businesses across Britain.
“I’m acutely conscious that many people want to use the railway during the Easter holidays, but with fewer people traveling by train over this four-day weekend, it is a good time to undertake these massive improvement projects. The vast majority of services will be unaffected by this programme with over 95% of the network open as normal.
“Passengers have shown themselves to be incredibly understanding of planned improvement work and I’d like to thank them in advance for their support and understanding as we deliver the big improvements that the travelling public want to see.
“The number of people travelling by rail continues to grow to record levels. Our work this Easter forms a key part of our Railway Upgrade Plan to meet surging demand and improve and expand our congested railway network.”
Eleanor Lawrence, an apprentice technician, is the face of Network Rail’s nationwide ‘Check Before You Travel’ campaign which uses posters, billboards and digital screens at stations as well as online and print adverts to urge people to check for changes to their journeys over Easter.
Eleanor said: “I’ll be celebrating Easter and eating chocolate with dozens of other members of the orange army while doing essential work to keep the railway safe and reliable for passengers.
“I’ve been interested in the railway since I was very young but since I joined the industry I’ve been amazed and inspired by the people around me and their commitment to make the railways better. This is such a worthwhile job and makes a difference to so many people and carries such a huge responsibility to keep people safe and provide a good, reliable service. It’s a job and a career that really matters.”