Published on : Thursday, January 7, 2016
Across Britain, hundreds of thousands of passengers and businesses will now be feeling the benefits of the successful completion of Network Rail’s £150m Christmas Railway Upgrade Plan resulting in better, more reliable train services and improved passenger facilities.
Over 20,000 members of Network Rail’s orange army worked over Christmas and New Year on over 500 projects nationwide in some atrocious weather conditions to deliver a bigger, better railway.
In Wales, Network Rail carried out work between Cardiff and Newport to help improve the reliability of rail services. The work was part of the latest phase of the Cardiff Area Signalling Renewal scheme to modernise the railway in South Wales by replacing ageing signalling equipment, enhancing track layouts, building new platforms and improving stations. Over the next year this work will continue and is scheduled to complete next Christmas with the opening of the new Platform 8 at Cardiff Central.
Work also continued in preparation for the electrification of the South Wales Mainline. In order to prepare the railway for the overhead lines which will power electric trains, five bridges in Newport and Monmouthshire were replaced with new and improved structures in preparation for the arrival of a new fleet of faster, quieter and greener electric trains.
Paul McMahon, Network Rail Wales route managing director, said: “Our team worked round the clock over Christmas to deliver our Railway Upgrade Plan, providing better, more reliable journeys for the record numbers of passengers using the railway in Wales.
“To prepare the railway for the arrival of a new fleet of faster, quieter and greener electric trains, we have replaced five bridges in South Wales with improved structures. We have also installed new tracks, signalling and other improvements between Cardiff and Newport to give passengers a more modern and reliable railway.“I’d like to thank passengers and our lineside neighbours for their patience and understanding as we delivered this vital work to improve their journeys.”
The Christmas and New Year investment programme saw the successful building and construction of new station facilities, longer platforms, extra tracks, new junctions and thousands of pieces of new, more reliable equipment installed across the country.
The work was 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.
An independent review of how the rail industry plans and schedules major improvement work was carried out last year. The review concluded that Christmas, Easter and bank holidays were the best times to carry out upgrades requiring major line closures, particularly in and around London where the network is busiest and access for engineers is most difficult.