Month: July 2020

Work carries on – routine railway upgrades in July

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Our railway has gone through big changes in response to coronavirus, to keep services running and help you travel safely and confidently.

Meanwhile, we're are doing everything we can to continue our day to day work for everybody in Britain – and that includes carrying out regular maintenance and improvements like these:

Essential bridge upgrade in St Helens

We got to work upgrading a railway bridge across a dual carriageway in St Helens to keep it safe and reliable for decades to come.

We're refurbishing the bridge spanning the Rainford Bypass (A570) as part of the Great North Rail Project, which is improving travel in the north of England.

Our teams are working closely with St Helens Council to minimise the disruption to all road users and residents.

The upgrade will ensure the bridge stays safe and reliable
Some of the equipment we often use to quickly replace track

Track upgrades for more reliable services

We're laying almost four miles of new track between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds to give you more reliable services.

Track gets worn over time so we need to maintain it regularly and eventually replace sections of it altogether. In this area, we're replacing track and sleepers – the supports for the rails – so you experience fewer delays and cancellations.

Better stations for you

We're getting ready to refurbish railway stations to make your travelling experience better – like the Grade II listed Bookham station in Surrey.

Our team is repairing the station after problems caused by wet rot – a fungus that attacks timber.

We're also replacing a large section of the roof and repainting the station's footbridge, with most of the work taking place at night to avoid disrupting your journeys.

Meanwhile, at Bromborough station in the Wirral, we're preparing to refurbish the footbridge, extend the station car park by about 50 spaces and install a new power supply for new trains in the future.

The Grade II listed footbridge at Bookham in Surrey needs repainting


Work Carries on – routine railway works in June

How we're helping you travel during coronavirus

Upgrading your railway this bank holiday

Looking after the railway

Planned works

Putting passengers first

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Source: Network Rail

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Upgrading your railway this August bank holiday

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We’re getting ready for our next bank holiday improvements across Britain as we welcome you back to the railway.

Essential upgrades worth £105m this August bank holiday will help us give you better and more reliable journeys for the long term.

Some train services will be different as we carry out our work between 29 and 31 August but most will run as normal. Please check your journey in advance with your train operator or on National Rail Enquiries. You can also follow #AugustBHWorks on Twitter.

Remember you must wear a face covering during your journey unless you’re exempt from the Government’s rules. For example, if you have a visible or hidden disability, or breathing difficulties.

You can read more about face coverings and exemptions here.

Our team hard during the May bank holiday to replace track

We’ve worked hard throughout the pandemic to improve journeys by maintaining and upgrading the railway for when more people start to use trains again. We’re also cleaning our stations even more than we used to and have more staff on hand to help you with information and to travel safely.

What are we doing this bank holiday?

We’ve got 520 projects lined up, from laying new track to maintaining bridges and testing the overhead lines that power electric trains. They include:

  • Track replacement in the Coventry area to make journeys more reliable on the West Coast Main Line, which runs from London Euston up to Scotland. Track gets worn from lots of trains travelling on it, so we need to maintain it regularly – and replace it eventually so it stays safe.
  • Signalling upgrades in Cheshire. We’re moving the control of signals – basically the traffic lights of the railway – from Ditton in Cheshire to a modern signalling centre (Rail Operating Centre) in Manchester. This means signallers will be able to reduce delays for you during problems on the railway by responding to disruption and re-routing trains faster.
  • Track and signalling upgrades in the London St Pancras International area that will improve safety. Work here will also help us prepare to build Brent Cross West railway station in London, which we expect to open in 2022.
  • Lots of work at London King’s Cross as part of a bigger project to shorten journeys and allow more trains in the long term on the East Coast Main Line. This line runs out of King’s Cross station and up to northern Scotland. The track layout outside the station needs updating because it’s become difficult to maintain after 40 years and trains in the area need more space.

Gallery: the tracks outside London King's Cross, London St Pancras International, track renewals and a modern signalling centre (Rail Operating Centre).

Why we carry out big projects over bank holidays

We know it can be frustrating when we close some parts of the railway during bank holiday weekends but it’s the least disruptive time to carry out such big jobs.

We get asked a lot why this is. Let's take a closer look…

There’s never a perfect time to close railway lines but in normal times, doing so over bank holidays affects far fewer passengers than on a typical working day.

We often need 24 hours to safely complete our projects, like laying new track or upgrading signals. To do this, we sometimes need to close parts of the railway to trains. We try to do this at quiet times, like overnight or at weekends, and especially during the long bank holiday weekends.

Here are just some of the things we need to consider when planning these improvements:

  • agree timetable changes with train and freight companies
  • access to land
  • allocation of equipment
  • supplies and materials
  • making sure other projects don’t clash
  • contingency plans
  • the right people in the right places – all over Britain.

You can read more about how we prepare for these big projects here.

Read more:

Delays demystified – planned engineering works

How we're helping you travel during coronavirus

Planned works

Find out more about how to wear and make a face covering.

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Source: Network Rail

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How we’re helping passengers travel during coronavirus

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We're reassuring passengers they can use the railway confidently – with a range of measures to help keep them safe during the pandemic.

They include extra staff to help guide passengers through stations, and vending machines at Britain's biggest stations, where passengers can buy face coverings and hand sanitiser.

We've worked hard to keep railway stations and facilities in the most hygienic and best possible condition for passengers, station users and staff since the start of the pandemic.

We've carried out extra deep cleans on top of our regular cleaning regimes and have used sanitiser and anti-viral treatments on common touch-point areas like doors and handrails.

The number of station staff has also increased to provide information to passengers, encourage the use of face coverings and help people travel safely. 

In fact, we have deployed almost two and a half times the number of station staff than before the pandemic, and more than twice as many additional staff to help customers compared with the 2012 London Olympics.

If you or the people you live with have symptoms of covid-19 (coronavirus) or are self-isolating, you should stay at home.

For the latest travel advice visit National Rail Enquiries.

A huge number of extra station staff are on hand to help your journey

Other measures to help keep passengers safe include:

  • Vending machines installed at the railway stations directly managed by Network Rail staff – 20 of the biggest stations in the country, including London Waterloo, London King’s Cross and Birmingham New Street – so passengers can buy face coverings, gloves, anti-bacterial wet wipes and hand sanitiser
  • 21-day cycle of Zoono – an anti-viral treatment that protects surfaces for up to 30 days – to all touch point and hygiene areas, and additional touch-point cleaning no less than four-hourly on a continuous cycle, guarding against risk of contamination
  • One-way systems and floor stickers installed to help passengers navigate stations in a controlled way
  • 250 hand sanitiser stations introduced at managed stations
  • Queuing systems to limit the number of people in and out of toilets where necessary
  • Cubicles, urinals, sinks and dryers marked as out of use, and new signage installed, to maintain social distancing
  • Seating in stations and waiting rooms altered to support social distancing

We're reminding passengers to take the following steps to ensure they are keeping themselves and others safe when using the railway:

  • Wear a face covering for the duration of your journey unless you are exempt – for example, young children, people with visible or hidden disabilities and those with breathing difficulties
  • Maintain a distance from others wherever possible
  • Avoid peak times and travel at quieter periods if you can
  • Maintain good hand hygiene.

Gallery: station staff and social distancing measures during the pandemic

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “I would like to thank passengers for following Government advice over the last few months. By only travelling if absolutely necessary, you have helped us to operate a reliable service for critical workers – such as doctors, nurses, carers and supermarket workers – who have needed to travel, and to keep the country connected by moving goods such as food and medicine by rail freight.

“Now, as lockdown continues to ease and the nation turns towards recovering from this pandemic, I look forward to welcoming more people back to the railway. We have significantly stepped up cleaning regimes and made sure there are more staff on hand to help with information so you can travel safely.”

Read more:

GOV.UK guidance on safer travel for passengers

GOV.UK guidance on staying safe

GOV.UK guidance on how to wear and make a face covering

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Source: Network Rail

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Film – a railway rich in biodiversity

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Running Britain’s railway comes with great responsibility for the land and wildlife beside it.

Folkestone Warren, a country park along the Kent seafront, sits near one of the main railway routes from Folkestone to London. It's one of our finest examples of biodiversity – take a short walk from the beach and find rare bees, moths and even the first cattle to graze on the site in about 100 years.

In fact, it's one of the best sites for spotting biodiversity in South East England thanks to its range of habitats. They include cliffs, rocky shoreline, chalk grassland and woodland, according to Alfie Gay, a ranger at the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership, which looks after the land on behalf of Folkestone & Hythe District Council.

Network Rail is a proud member of the partnership, which aims to preserve the local environment and has worked especially hard in recent years to dramatically improve biodiversity at Folkestone Warren, increasing the number of rare species at this nationally important site.

Watch this film to find out more:

Site of Special Scientific Interest

Folkestone Warren is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and in Europe is comparable with just one other place, in Italy, says Derek Butcher, route asset manager, geotechnics, drainage and off track on our South East route.

Dere said: “A number of the species here are protected, individually as well… There’s birds, butterflies and plants that all need to be looked after. Some of those protected species grow very close to the track so we need to make sure that they are looked after as well as running trains at the same time.”

Alfie said Folkestone Warren was distinct because it boasts an impressive cross-section of geology and an array of rare moths. Its close proximity to France – visible from the Warren on a clear day – makes it ideal for species that need slightly warmer temperatures to survive. It’s also an important destination for wildlife migrating across the Channel to establish new populations.

Alfie said: “We have a lot of species which are just on the edge of their range – northern edge of their range. They struggle to get a foothold further into the country.”

Gallery: the railway runs alongside the Warren, which is full of protected species – and cattle to graze the land for a better environment for wildlife

The reintroduction of cattle grazing to the Warren for the first time in about 100 years has largely contributed to the improved biodiversity.

We returned cattle to the area about six years ago and today, Highland cows crossed with Aberdeen Angus cows graze here for part of the year. They organically manage the scrubland, which substantially improves the environment for the species that live there.

Alfie said: “Grazing would have been widespread at the Warren until the early 20th century. We think it ceased around 1920 or thereabouts…

“Without grazing, scrub moves in, and so you lose the grassland and you lose all of the smaller chalk herbs – so your plants like marjoram or milkwort or horseshoe vetch. And these are all wild flowers which are really important for butterflies to complete their lifecycles.”

We have 30 species of butterfly at Folkestone Warren and very rare species of moth, including the fiery clearwing, only found in Britain on this stretch of coast.

The partnership’s work with local volunteers has also led to a rise in the number of common spotted orchids at the Warren. Wild flowers – which here also include dogwood and wild privet – are crucial to the rich population of bees in the area: bumble bees, solitary bees and mining bees to name a few.

Alfie said: “If we have more bees, then we have more pollination, so we have more wild flowers so it’s a positive feedback.”

Read more:

Folkestone Warren – The Great Fall to SSSI

The Great Fall – historic landslip images resurface

World Environment Day 2020

Wildlife around the railway


Climate change and weather resilience

Living by the railway

International Women's Day – Q&A with Michelle Chrabalowski, environment specialist

Managing habitats by the railway

The post Film – a railway rich in biodiversity appeared first on Network Rail.

Source: Network Rail

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Week on the Network 20.07.20

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Network Rail works hard to improve the railway each week.

We cater for 4.8m rail journeys every single day, while simultaneously delivering an ambitious, multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan. We're renewing and upgrading 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges and viaducts, thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run), meaning our works have a wide-reaching impact.

Every week, we'll highlight some of those interesting stories.

Monday, 20 July 2020

See what we’ve been up to in the past week in our Week on the Network video. Catch up on past and future episodes on our YouTube channel.

Catch up on last week's features:

Big Bang Digital 2020

Happy birthday Sir John Fowler

Delays demystified – planned engineering works

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Source: Network Rail

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Updated: July 20, 2020 — 2:00 am