Three years’ work completed in 11 days

With two of the West Coast main lines still open, three years' work was carried out in 11 days.

Taking advantage of the railways being quieter than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Network Rail and its contractors have completed three years’ worth of work to upgrade drainage, track and signalling equipment over a seven-mile stretch of railway in North London in just 11 days.

The work that was undertaken included:

  • Drainage improvements in the Victorian-built Kensal Green Tunnel to prevent delays from flooding during bad weather;
  • Major track renewals between Primrose Hill and Willesden Junction;
  • Installation of new signalling equipment;
  • Removal of graffiti and scrap metal from beside the railway.
Avanti West Coast train passing Willesden track upgrade worksite March 2021.

This volume of work would normally have taken three years of consecutive overnight weekend shifts to complete, at a cost of around £19.8 million. However, Network Rail teamed up with train operators to close two out of the four lines on the West Coast main line while fewer passengers were travelling, meaning the work could be carried out non-stop without closing the railway completely. This super-fast approach brought costs down to £6 million – saving the taxpayer approximately £13.8 million.

James Dean, Network Rail.

James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast South route director, said: “I’d like to thank our passengers and lineside neighbours for their patience whilst we completed this work on the economically important West Coast main line.

“I’d also like to pay a huge credit to our train operators and industry colleagues for enabling us to carry out this work at short notice and get the railway in the best possible shape for passengers when they return.

“This is all part of our commitment to build back better as the country emerges from the pandemic.”

Gus Dunster, Avanti West Coast.

Gus Dunster, executive director of operations and safety at Avanti West Coast, added: “We are pleased to have been able to play our part to facilitate Network Rail’s upgrade works on the approach to London Euston.

“These upgrades usually have to be completed one project at a time, but, as a result of the collaborative efforts of industry colleagues, we were able to complete multiple projects, while operating our services for our customers who needed to travel.

“We would like to thank everyone who travelled with us during this time for their patience. The work will help to make journeys more reliable for our customers when we look forward to welcoming them back in the near future.”

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