Network Rail news: Swansea, Southport and East West Rail Project.

Swansea residents invited to drop-in event to find out more about upgrade work on the railway between Port Talbot and Swansea.

Swansea residents invited to drop-in event to find out more about upgrade work on the railway between Port Talbot and Swansea

A principal supply point (PSP) unit being installed at Landore. (Network Rail Image)



Swansea residents are invited to a drop-in event to find out more about upcoming upgrade work to the signalling system on the railway between Port Talbot and Swansea, as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan for Wales and Borders.

On Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 March, Network Rail engineers will be working hard to remove old signal structures in the Landore area of Swansea and to bring into use the new signalling equipment, which will make the railway more resilient and reliable for passengers. 

Buses will replace trains between Llanelli and Cardiff on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 March and rail passengers are urged to check before travelling at nationalrail.co.uk.  

A drop-in event for residents and local businesses will take place on Wednesday 6 February from 3pm to 6pm in The Grand Hotel, Ivey Place, High Street, Swansea, SA1 1NX. No appointment is necessary and representatives from Network Rail’s project team will be on hand to provide information and answer any questions ahead of the work.

Mark Neate, project manager for Network Rail Wales and Borders, said: “We thank the local community for their patience while we carry out this essential upgrade work to the South Wales Mainline.

 “We have been working closely with our partners to minimise disruption, including by ensuring this work did not take place  during a Six Nations event.  I would encourage anyone wishing to find out more about this work to come along to the drop-in.”

Colin Lea, director of customer experience at Transport for Wales, said: “This work on the south Wales mainline by our partners in Network Rail will help build a better, more reliable railway for the future on one of our key routes.

“We fully recognise that disruption is never welcome for customers and we thank them for their patience.

“Working closely with Network Rail we have sought to minimise the impact of this and we urge customers to check their journey details prior to travel.”

Coordinated Merseyside railway upgrades planned during Southport line closure.

A railway bridge over the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Bootle will be replaced next month while the Southport line is closed for platform upgrades.

The two improvements will take place at the same time to deliver the most benefit, while causing the least disruption to passengers.

Network Rail and Merseyrail have worked together to reschedule the bridge renewal to fit in with the ongoing platform improvements.

Between 18 – 22 February, the existing bridge deck will be removed and a 1,000 tonne crane will be used to install a new deck.

The Southport line will be closed for platform upgrades from 2 – 24 February as part of a wider programme of improvements to accommodate new trains from 2020.

Both pieces of work are part of the Great North Rail Project – a multi-billion-pound rail industry team effort to transform train travel for customers across the North through track and train improvements.

Chris Atkins, Network Rail scheme project manager, said: “Working with Merseyrail, we have rescheduled the renewal of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal railway bridge to fit in with the closure of the Southport line while platforms are upgraded.

“This will mean that passengers will have the least amount of disruption while we deliver significant benefits to the railway on Merseyside.  

“Both pieces of work are essential. One will prepare the Merseyrail network for the arrival of its new trains. The other will ensure the railway bridge that supports the railway in Bootle is kept safe for the next 100 years.

David Powell, Merseytravel’s programme director of rolling stock, said: “All partners have worked together to minimise disruption to passengers as much as possible. We are progressing with the platform upgrades in preparation for the arrival of the new state of the art trains from 2020. 

“Although the end results might not be obvious, the upgrades are essential to ensure the new trains’ sliding step can meet the platform edge so that passengers can get on and off the new trains with ease.”

Andy Heath, managing director at Merseyrail, said: “The platform upgrade work is essential to prepare the network for the new state-of-the-art trains and carrying out other necessary work at the same time will help to minimise disruption to passenger journeys. Passengers using the Southport line between 2 -24 February are encouraged to check before they travel at merseyrail.org/itshappening”

Between 2 and 24 February, Network Rail will be completing vital upgrades to 17 platforms on the Southport line. Work to adjust the height and width of station platforms and remodel track will prepare the platforms for the arrival of the new trains.

Passengers are being reminded to continue to check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest information.

Public inquiry begins into next phase of transformational East West Rail project

Plans for the East West Rail project will take a major step forward with the start of a public inquiry in Milton Keynes this week.

From tomorrow (Wednesday 6 February) for 12 weeks, planners will hear proposals for the first direct rail link in more than 50 years between Oxford and Bedford, and Milton Keynes and Aylesbury.

If approved, the line will connect communities and businesses to create more jobs, economic growth and sustainable housing – transforming the lives of residents for generations to come.

The East West Rail project is being built progressively in phases, and once constructed will create a world-class rail link connecting Oxford, Bicester, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.

With phase 1 between Oxford and Bicester already complete, phase 2 involves track and signalling upgrades between Bicester, Bedford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, including the reinstatement of a ‘mothballed’ section of railway between Bletchley and Claydon Junction.

The proposed work will bring huge improvements to local travel, with the phased introduction of new rail journeys between:

  • Oxford and Milton Keynes: with trains stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow and Bletchley.
  • Oxford and Bedford: with trains stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgmont.
  • Milton Keynes and Aylesbury: with trains stopping at Bletchley, Winslow and Aylesbury Vale Parkway.

Colin Murphy, head of consenting and environment for Network Rail working on the East West Rail project, said: “The start of public inquiry signifies a key milestone and phase of the consenting process. Our aim now is to ensure the planning inspector is presented with the information needed to examine and assess the merits of our proposals, against the views of others, on whether to recommend to the Secretary of State for Transport that the order should be made. When approved, Network Rail can initiate delivery of the main construction works.”

Councillor Mark Shaw, chairman of the East West Rail Consortium, which has campaigned for the reopening of this rail service since 1995, said: “After more than 20 years of campaigning, the start of the public inquiry is a key moment in the project’s history.

“The consortium will be appearing at the inquiry in support of East West Rail, which will provide new sustainable travel options and play a key role in helping realise the full potential of our economy.

“We are confident that the case for the investment is solid, but it is absolutely right that the inquiry examines the proposal in detail so that stakeholders and residents’ concerns are taken into account by the inspector, before a final decision is made.”

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