Home Industry News Easter work to improve the railway takes place as planned

Easter work to improve the railway takes place as planned

The Easter weekend is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for work on the railway’s infrastructure.  With commuters on holiday, Network Rail takes advantage of the quieter spell to close some lines and do essential work.

Things were a bit different this year.  Most commuters haven’t travelled for the last three weeks, though trains have stayed running for essential workers. In addition, some infrastructures are off work, self-isolating to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

Still, work had been planned well in advance and a large part of it went ahead anyway, mostly in warm sunshine. A brief round-up of the work follows.

Track was renewed through Linslade tunnel in Bedfordshire to improve reliability.

Linsdale track. Picture © Network Rail.

At Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, preparation work for East West Rail – which is re-establishing a rail link between Oxford and Cambridge – included the removal of sections of a flyover across the West Coast main line, which will be refurbished as part of the scheme.

Further north, in Greater Manchester, track renewals took place at Golborne near Warrington, work that involved clearing ballast from the sleepers and required a crane to controls operations.

In Lancashire, drainage of the West Coast main line between Preston and Lancaster has been a problem recently, so engineers were deployed to fix that and, at the same time, replace Euxton junction near Chorley.

Drainage of the West Coast main line, Lancashire. Picture © Network Rail.

Further north still, at Polmadie, near Glasgow Central, a tamper was deployed to raise the height of the track by packing more ballast under the sleepers, restoring the track geometry to improve ride quality.

Ballast was also the subject of work at Wolverhampton, where it was cleaned and replaced, once again to improve reliability and track performance.

Birmingham New Street station received a deep clean, particularly of all the floor matting at the station’s entrances – a job best carried out when passengers aren’t walking all over it!

Finally, at Pilning station near Bristol, preparation work was carried out ready for major track renewals as the points that enable trains to change lines between Pilning and the Severn Tunnel will soon be replaced.

Final preparations took place at Pilning station near Bristol. Picture © Network Rail.

All of this work was carried out while the teams of workers from Network Rail and its contractors stuck to Public Health England guidelines to give each other enough space. There were even stickers to remind everyone:

Network Rail’s managing director for its North West & Central region, Tim Shoveller, paid tribute to the men and women who carried out the works: “Our mission-critical frontline colleagues, including railway upgrade engineers, signallers, maintenance, control room and operations staff, are Britain’s hidden heroes, helping to keep Britain connected in this time of need. And I’m proud of them.”

Nigel Wordsworth BSc(Hons) MCIJhttp://therailengineer.com

SPECIALIST AREAS Rolling stock, mechanical equipment, project reports, executive interviews


Nigel Wordsworth graduated with an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Nottingham University, after which he joined the American aerospace and industrial fastener group SPS Technologies. After a short time at the research laboratories in Pennsylvania, USA, Nigel became responsible for applications engineering to industry in the UK and Western Europe. At this time he advised on various engineering projects, from Formula 1 to machine tools, including a particularly problematic area of bogie design for the HST.

A move to the power generation and offshore oil supply sector followed as Nigel became director of Entwistle-Sandiacre, a subsidiary of the Australian-owned group Aurora plc. At the same time, Nigel spent ten years as a Technical Commissioner with the RAC Motor Sports Association, responsible for drafting and enforcing technical regulations for national and international motor racing series.

Joining Rail Engineer in 2008, Nigel’s first assignment was a report on new three-dimensional mobile mapping and surveying equipment, swiftly followed by a look at vegetation control machinery. He continues to write on a variety of topics for most issues.

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