Network Rail is thanking passengers and local residents today for their patience and understanding over the festive period while it has completed vital railway engineering work.

Over Christmas and New Year, teams have been busy completing multi-million pound improvements, upgrades and essential work across the Wales and Western region.

In Cornwall, engineers worked over Christmas Day and Boxing Day to test signals installed in November, ahead of a new digitalised system coming into action in the county later this spring, while teams in south Devon drilled soil nails into the cliffs to help protect the tracks between Dawlish and Holcombe, improving the resilience of the railway.

At the same time in Bristol, teams installed an accessible footbridge at the at the new West of England Combined Authority Ashley Down station, which is due to open later this year.

In West London, four days of preparatory work (24-27 December) required to deliver trains to HS2’s new station at Old Oak Common was successfully completed on time during a planned closure of the line between Ealing Broadway and London Paddington.

The work included installing new drainage, plus new overhead line equipment that powers trains, including 1,200m of wire.  More than 800m of track was renewed at West Drayton, near Slough, over the same period.

Track, and switches and crossings – moveable sections that guide trains from one track to another –   were renewed over eight days on the Kennet Loop, near Reading, to improve reliability.

At Frome, Somerset, engineers repaired North Row bridge and replaced 170m of track over ten days, with work finishing on 2 January, enabling better performance and reliability for freight trains.

In Wales, teams worked over Christmas Day and Boxing Day to remove and replace track around Grangetown, Cardiff, while vital bridge repairs were carried out at Shrewsbury station between 24 and 27 December.

Vital maintenance on the Ebbw Vale line and in the Severn Tunnel was carried out over the weekend of 30-31 December.

Stuart Calvert, capital delivery director for Network Rail’s Wales and Western region, said: “The essential work our engineers completed over the festive period will help us to continue to run a safe and reliable railway for years to come.

“Undertaking this work when there are fewer people travelling helps to keep disruption for passengers to a minimum. However, we are grateful to passengers and local residents living near to our worksites for their patience and understanding as worked around the clock while trains were not running.

“The festive period is a really critical time for us to make vital upgrades to the railway and completing this volume of engineering work is no mean feat, so I’d also like to thank the many colleagues from Network Rail who gave up Christmas with their friends and families so we could complete these upgrades for the benefit of our passengers.”

Mark Hopwood CBE, GWR Managing Director, said: “I would like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding during the recent closure, by Network Rail, of the line into Paddington over the Christmas period.

“We know how important travelling to visit friends and family is at this time of year, and we have worked really hard with our industry partners to ensure thousands of people could still travel around this disruption as smoothly as possible.”

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