Tuesday, April 26, 2016

News: Rail improvements signal Bank Holiday disruption

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The rail network in parts of South Yorkshire will be closed this May bank holiday as Network Rail, the owners and operators of Britain's rail infrastructure, upgrades signalling to provide more reliable train services for passengers.

The £15m investment will see the control of signals – the traffic lights of the railway – around Sheffield, Rotherham, Swinton and Mexborough moved to the state-of-the-art Rail Operating Centre (ROC) in York which already controls the signalling across large parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

The complex electrical work will take place over the bank holiday weekend of Sunday May 2 and Monday May 2 meaning some services won't run with buses replacing trains. All lines are set to reopen on Tuesday May 3.

Rob McIntosh, route managing director for Network Rail said: "Moving the signalling to the ROC is an important step in our £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better more reliable railway for passengers and means that passenger and freight services become more reliable, while also helping to bring down the cost of running the railway.

"Although there is never a good time to disrupt passengers, we know that fewer people travel over bank holidays and we deliberately avoided doing this project at Christmas to help support Meadowhall and the region's retail economy. I thank passengers for their patience and understanding while this upgrade takes place and assure them that the long term benefit will be worth the few days of inconvenience."

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Arriva, one of Europe's leading transport operators, has recently taken on the Northern Rail franchise whilst the TransPennine Express franchise is now solely operated by FirstGroup.

As part of the winning bids, the franchisees have promised new and refurbished trains and carriages and new timetables should begin in 2017.

Other projects in Network Rail's upgrade plan included the delayed Tram Train pilot project between Sheffield and Rotherham and improvements to sections of railway in the Hope Valley to enable faster, more frequent services on to the route between Manchester and Sheffield.

A £1.5 billion electrification project to bring newer, faster and more reliable trains on the key route between London and the Sheffield city region is not set to reach the region until 2023.

It was hoped that the electrification of the routes "Sheffield – Doncaster", "Swinton to South Kirkby Junction" and "Chesterfield – Beighton Junction – Rotherham" would be part of an on going rolling programme of electrification to complete these parts of the "Electric Spine" in the period from 2019 to 2024.

Network Rail website

Images: Network Rail

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