Railway reopens after 16-day overhaul of key junction on West Coast main line.(Network Rail)

Railway reopens after 16-day overhaul of key junction on West Coast main line
Workers on site during £27m renewal of Acton Grange junction.(Network Rail Image)

Passengers are benefitting from a more reliable railway today (5 August) with the West Coast main line fully reopen after the major renewal of Acton Grange junction near Warrington.

The £27m overhaul as part of the Great North Rail Project saw upgrades to track, cabling, overhead lines and signalling.

The vital 16-day upgrade has brought outdated track and equipment up to modern standards and further improved the reliability of the economically important West Coast main line.

While the work took place many trains were rerouted. The travel plan was agreed by the rail industry to keep passengers and goods moving on trains as much as possible.

The work finished as planned despite the team experiencing extreme weather changes over the last two weeks – including extreme temperatures, heavy rain and thunderstorms.

David Golding, acting route managing director, said:

“Our complete overhaul of Acton Grange junction is vital as it sits on the West Coast main line, Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway.

“With more than 260 trains using this junction every day, it is important to keep it in a safe, good condition. Our upgrades will ensure this vital part of the railway stays reliable for passengers for many years to come.

“I want to thank passengers for bearing with us while we delivered this much-needed work.”

Network Rail has minimised future disruption to passengers in the area by bringing forward other engineering work to coincide with the 16-day closure of Acton Grange junction.

Teams upgraded 4km of track and 2km of drainage through nearby Sutton Tunnel. A track crossing was also removed near Runcorn East station.

This saved a further 13-day closure of the West Coast main line and has improved safety and reliability of these well-used sections of track.


Key facts on Acton Grange junction renewal:

  • This is a £27m investment as part of the Great North Rail Project
  • The junction was closed for 16 days (July 20 – August 4)
  • 260 trains use Acton Grange junction each day
  • The West Coast main line is Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway line (passengers and freight)
  • Nearly 500 people each day worked on the project
  • Total work time to replace the junction was 69,120 hours
  • All four railway lines, overhead electric cables, signalling equipment and unique ‘double diamond’ crossing system have been ripped out and replaced to modern standards
  • 3,200 tonnes of track foundation stone has been replaced
  • 22 engineering trains were used

Why Network Rail needed to carry out this work:

  • This was a must-do £27m replacement of an old junction on Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway used by 260 trains every day
  • The purpose was to keep the railway safe and reliable for train passengers and freight carriers for years to come
  • We had to close the junction for this extended amount of time because we removed all four tracks, signalling, cabling and overhead lines. This could not be done overnight or over a weekend.