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Check before you travel this Easter as investment in the railway continues

We are renewing the track and signalling on Europe’s busiest mixed traffic railway through Watford Junction to provide a better, more reliable resilient railway.


Passengers are being advised to check before they travel on the West Coast main line this Easter as Network Rail continues its programme of investment and improvements.


There will be no direct services between London Euston and Hemel Hempstead from Good Friday (3 April) and Easter Monday (6 April) while Network Rail installs the latest upgrades in the Watford area.

The closure is necessary to allow Network Rail to demolish and install a new bridge south of Watford Junction Station, install overhead power equipment and track and do vital repairs to one of the Watford Tunnels which are north of the station.

This will build on work in 2014 and over Christmas and the New Year when new track was installed and new signalling was brought into use. The combined work will help to provide a more reliable and efficient West Coast main line which is one of the busiest mixed use railways in Europe.

To minimise disruption Network Rail, Virgin Trains and London Midland are advising passengers to check before they travel as journeys on the West Coast main line in and out of London and between the West Midlands and north west of England will be longer and may involve a bus replacement service.

The closures will affect passengers from across parts of Scotland, north Wales, the West Midlands, north west and those travelling between Rugby, Northampton and Milton Keynes into London. Full details and alternative routes are available on the National Rail Enquires website at www.nationalrail.co.uk/easter.

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “This is the latest phase of planned work in the Watford area which will provide a better railway for the millions of passengers who use the West Coast main line every year.

“There is never a good time to carry out this type of work but we have liaised closely with the train operators to plan for it to take place at a quieter time on the railway.

“The section of track at Watford is one of the most intensively used, high-speed pieces of railway in Britain and has seen tremendous growth in traffic and passengers over the last five years.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused but the work is essential to improve the network and maintain reliable services on the West Coast main line.”

Network Rail will continue to work with train operators to provide passengers with information in the build up to, and during, the work to minimise disruption as much as possible.

Terry Oliver, London Midland's head of West Coast services, said: “My advice to passengers would be to postpone travel to another date if possible.

'London Midland will be running rail-replacement bus services over the Bank Holiday weekend, but journeys will involve changes and will take much longer than normal.

'If a journey is essential, remember to check before you travel. Thank you to our passengers for their patience and cooperation, while these essential works take place.”

Phil Bearpark, executive director operations and projects for Virgin Trains, said: "We understand that improvement works can have a big impact on passengers and we are advising customers not to travel over Easter if they can avoid it. Customers who must travel will have to seek alternative routes which means their journeys will take significantly longer and could be extremely busy. Passengers who are travelling should definitely check their journey before they travel.

“We have worked closely with Network Rail and industry partners to ensure alternative travel arrangements are in place wherever possible and to keep disruption to a minimum whilst this important work is carried out.”

Work is also taking place between Manchester and Bolton, via Farnworth, from 0030 Friday 3 April to 0600 Tuesday 7 April. This will allow for improvements to be made as part of a £1bn+ investment in the north of England to provide a more reliable and efficient railway. The work is part of the wider Farnworth Tunnel project which will allow for electric trains to run through the area from December 2016.

Manchester Victoria station will also be closed from 0001 Friday 3 April to 0500 Tuesday 7 April while work takes place to transfer the signalling controls from the Manchester North Signalling Control Centre to the new route operating centre at Ashburys. Centralising signalling from around 800 locations across the network to 12 centres over the next 25 years will improve reliability and save Network Rail millions of pounds in operating costs. For the latest information visit www.nationalrail.co.uk/easter.

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