Over £800m to be ploughed into Waterloo and South West Trains
More than £800m is to be spent over the next three years, increasing capacity at London Waterloo and on South West Trains’ services.

London Waterloo is Britain’s busiest railway station and the terminus for South West Trains, one of the busiest railways in the country.

In the biggest investment since Victorian times, the former Waterloo International Terminal will be rebuilt to bring platforms 20- 24 back into use, with an accessible modern station concourse, new track and signalling, and a layout suitable for thousands of passengers. Platforms 1-4 are to be extended to accommodate ten-car trains for the London suburban services.

These improvements at Waterloo will be complemented by enhancements at Vauxhall and Surbiton stations to increase capacity and improve passenger journeys.

As part of the investment, a fleet of brand new Siemens Desiro City Class 707 trains are to enter service between London Waterloo and Windsor & Eton Riverside from mid- 2017 to mid 2018. Comprising 150 carriages configured as 30×5-car units they can also be run as 10-car units. The trains they replace will then cascade to other routes, taking the total number of carriages on the network to 1,599, up from just 1,022 in 1996.

In preparation for the longer trains, platforms are being extended at 10 stations on the Reading line and the power supply is being upgraded.

When the full rollout of the 707s is completed, all trains to Reading will be the new 458/5 carriages which have been introduced as part of the HLOS programme.

DC traction equipment on all Class 455 units is being replaced with modern three-phase AC traction equipment and solid state inverters with regenerative braking.

Maintenance facilities are being upgraded to handle the expanding train fleet, and the GreenSpeed Driver Advisory System is being introduced to improve punctuality and reduce impact on environment.

These initiative should provide a 30% increase in peak time capacity by 2019.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “From 2017, passengers will benefit from a bigger and better London Waterloo station and 150 new train carriages providing more space for passengers arriving at London Waterloo over the three-hour morning peak – this is in addition to the 108 extra carriages that have already been added since 2013.

Severn and Patchway tunnels to close for 6 weeks to prepare for electrification
Plans are being put in place for a programme of work on the 130-year-old Severn and Patchway tunnels culminating in a six week closure of the tunnels while conductor rail is installed and the historic structures prepared for electrification.

Ahead of the upgrade, a significant amount of preparation work is being undertaken, with four tonnes of soot being removed from the Severn tunnel alone, as well as repairs to the brick work.

During the six-week closure, Network Rail will install over eight miles of conductor rail. The scale of the engineering challenge together with the type of machinery required to carry out the work means both tunnels will be closed over a six week period from 12 September to 21 October.

Paul McMahon, route managing director for Network Rail Wales, said: “Without a solid six-week closure, it would take engineers up to five years to complete the upgrade, causing long-term disruption for passengers and delaying the new electric trains until 2021.

Norton bridgeOpening of the Norton Bridge flyover removes major bottleneck on West Coast main line
A £250m scheme to improve the rail infrastructure in the Stafford area has been delivered on budget and 18 months ahead of schedule.

The Stafford area improvement programme has been delivered over the last four years by the Staffordshire Alliance – a partnership of Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, Network Rail and VolkerRail, and has been managed in 3 phases.

Linespeed improvements between Crewe and Norton Bridge were completed in March 2014, and included modifying overhead line equipment and installing four new signals.

The second phase began in spring 2014 and was commission in August 2015, and comprised installing a new freight loop and replacing old signalling, telecoms and power supplies. Signalling control was also transferred from the existing Stafford No4 and No5 signal boxes to Rugby.

The final phase involved the construction of a grade-separated junction (flyover) at Norton Bridge and six miles of new 100mph railway. The new section of track and flyover, opened in March 2016, removes one of the last major bottlenecks on the West Coast main line by allowing trains travelling to Manchester from the south and West Midlands to travel over, rather than across, the existing tracks.

The first train over the new flyover at Norton Bridge was the 5.11am CrossCountry service from Manchester to Bournemouth.

Easter engineering works are completed on time in spite of Storm Katie
As Storm Katie battered Britain on Bank Holiday Monday, overhead electrical wires were damaged on the East Coast mainline, a wall collapsed onto the tracks in north-west London, part of the roof was blown off a station in Bognor and over 100 trees were blown onto the railway in the south east of England. Engineers were drafted in overnight to clear lines and make repairs.

Despite these pressures, Network Rail completed a record-breaking 450 engineering projects over the Easter bank holiday, delivering them on time.

The £60m Easter investment programme, included the construction of new station facilities, longer platforms, extra tracks, new junctions and the installation of thousands of pieces of new, more reliable equipment.

In and around London, overhead lines were renewed and Crossrail work was completed on the Great Eastern Main Line, while old track was replaced near Waterloo.

In Manchester, a major nine-day programme of work was started, to improve the track layout at Manchester Victoria station as part of Network Rail’s Northern Hub project.

In Scotland, work continued to replace 1,800m of ageing track leading up to Glasgow Queen Street station to allow faster, longer trains to run between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Between Reading and London, work was completed to make way for electric trains and Crossrail, and in Kent signals were upgraded to improve the reliability of the railway.

Liverpool improvements£340m of rail improvements announced for Liverpool over the next three years
Network Rail and the Liverpool City Region are to invest £340m on a series of upgrades and improvements to help meet an expected 100% increase in demand for rail travel across the region.

The improvements will also pave the way for additional services, such as planned new First Transpennine Express services from Liverpool to Glasgow in 2019, and Liverpoolto- Chester services.

Track, signalling and platform upgrades at Liverpool Lime Street station will cater for longer trains and more frequent services, creating the potential for three extra services per hour. The station is to close in autumn 2017 and again in 2018 while work is carried out.

The final phase of the riverbed and loop line slab track renewal – on the Wirral line and underground loop section of the Merseyrail network – will take place between January and June 2017. This will improve the safety and reliability on the underground, which was built in the 1970s.

Extra track is to be built between Huyton and Roby stations to enable faster services to overtake local stopping services.

The full business case for the re-opening of the Halton Curve for the New Liverpool to Chester service is to be considered by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority at its meeting in April. If approved, work will take place between June 2017 and May 2018.

A new station is to be built between Maghull and Town Green Stations on the Liverpool Central to Ormskirk branch, and Newton le Willows station is to be revamped.


Ordsall Chord challenge thrown out
The Court of Appeal has dismissed a legal challenge to the process by which permission was granted for The Ordsall Chord. Network Rail can now continue to implement the Ordsall Chord Order. The Ordsall Chord is a new viaduct that will link Manchester’s three main railway stations, enabling hundreds more trains to operate through the city each day.

HS2 appoints phase one engineering delivery partner
A team comprising CH2M, Atkins and SENER have been awarded the 10 year Phase One Engineering Delivery Partner contract for HS2. They will provide expert engineering and construction management support, and assist with preparation for the procurement of the main civils contracts for the London to Birmingham stage of the route.

East West Rail route clarified
The Bedford-Sandy-Cambridge corridor has been chosen as the preferred option for the central section of the new East West Rail line linking Oxford and Cambridge. Network Rail is to publish the methodology behind the decision in May, and further analysis and consultation will then take place to determine options for the ‘line on a map’ route.

The choices for Wales’ rail future
Network Rail has published the Welsh Route Study, identifying the choices investors face if they are to meet future growth in passenger and freight journeys in Wales and the borders. The document will inform funding decisions for the period 2019 to 2024, and outlines choices such as redevelopment of Cardiff Central station, modernisation of the railway across North Wales, and improved rail links throughout Wales and the borders.