Rail passengers are being warned to expect disruption during the summer holidays as major engineering work gets under way on the West Coast Main Line.
In just over a month’s time, a major junction on the line, which runs through Wigan, Preston and Lancaster, will close for 16 days for work as part of the £27 million Great North Rail Project.
Between July 20 and August 4, Network Rail will be upgrading track, cabling, overhead lines and signalling on the busy Acton Grange junction, near Warrington, a key section of the West Coast main line between Crewe and Preston which is used by more than 260 trains every day.
Train operators and Network Rail have agreed a plan to keep passengers moving throughout the work, which may mean passengers have to change on to different trains or buses for sections of their journeys.
Passengers are being urged to check www.nationalrail.co.uk before travelling so they know exactly what to expect.
They are also advised to allow more time for their journeys as services are likely to be busier than usual.
Martin Frobisher, managing director for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “The West Coast main line is Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway. It is the economic backbone of Britain.
“With more than 260 trains using this junction every day, it is vital to keep it in good condition. We need to replace it and upgrade it to ensure a reliable railway for passengers for many years to come.
“To deliver work of this scale and magnitude, we must close the junction for 16 days this summer. The alternative would be many weekends of disruption to passengers and much higher cost.
“We have worked closely with our train and freight operator colleagues to minimise the disruption and to keep as many trains moving as possible. I would urge passengers to plan ahead and check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk.”
Robert Nisbet, regional director for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the railway, said: “This vital engineering work is part of the rail industry’s plan to improve punctuality and make journeys better while keeping disruption to a minimum as much as we can.
“We encourage people who are planning to take the train during these weeks to check before they travel by visiting www.nationalrail.co.uk or speaking to their train operator.”
This section of the West Coast main line helps connect Chester and Warrington to Manchester in the east and Wigan, Preston, the Lake District and Scotland to the West Midlands and London.
Rail bosses will say the upgrade this summer will bring outdated track and equipment up to modern standards and further improve the reliability of the economically important West Coast main line.
For more information on the work and impact visit www.networkrail.co.uk/WCMLActonGrange