The £81m improvement scheme begins in May 2014
and continues over 16 days between 9-25 August 2014.
Further work is also scheduled to take place over Christmas 2014, and in early 2015.
During the project, passenger trains will be unable to use a
12-mile section of the West Coast Main Line
around Watford Junction station.
Train operators will be making alternative arrangements
to help passengers complete their journeys during the line closure.
Dyan Crowther, Network Rail Route Managing Director, said:
“This scheme represents significant investment in the southern end of the West Coast Main Line
to improve punctuality and make the railway more reliable.
“This line has seen tremendous growth in traffic and passengers over the last five years
with the section at Watford being one of the most intensively used, high-speed sections of track in the UK .
"This work is absolutely essential to maintain the punctuality
that passengers and our freight customers rightly expect. “
Usually, Network Rail would have carried out work of this kind over a number of weekends,
requiring train services to be replaced repeatedly by alternative transport.
The work at Watford would have required 54 complete weekend closures of the line,
disrupting passengers for well over a year.
By carrying out the work in five longer closures,
engineers expect to be able to install the new signalling,
replace track and junctions earlier and avoid disrupting rail travel plans
for a large number of weekends throughout 2014 and 2015.
Dyan Crowther continued:
“There is never a good time to carry out major work on such a busy route.
However, after careful discussion with the train operators and industry partners,
it became apparent that carrying out this vital investment
over five longer closures between May 2014 and Easter 2015
when fewer people travel, would, overall, cause less disruption.”
During the project, the signalling at Watford will be upgraded
alongside new junctions and track to provide more flexibility for train services and better reliability.
To enable the work to be completed,
trains will be unable to run on the
West Coast Main Line through Watford
on the following dates from May 2014:
3-5 May 2014
8-25 August 2014
25-29 December 2014
14-22 February 2015
3-6 April 2015
Chris Gibb, Chief Operating Officer for Virgin Trains, said:
“We shall ensure that all customers have a reliable way of travelling to and from London
principally by being able to use other train operators' services
but in some cases by taking a replacement coach service for a short portion of the journey.
We are starting a dialogue now with industry partners that puts the customer first,
but at the same time allows Network Rail to carry out this essential work.”
Patrick Verwer, London Midland Managing Director, added:
“We want our customers to have good journeys with minimum disruption.
This is much needed investment and a series of closures is the quickest way
of bringing the benefits of this major upgrade to our passengers.
It gives certainty and allows us to plan good quality alternative travel arrangements.
We are now working closely with Network Rail and other industry partners to ensure that
there is a comprehensive programme of communication with good passenger information
available well ahead of and during the closures.
It's vital that passengers are aware of what's going on so they can plan their journeys
and allow enough time to get to their destinations.”
The work at Watford is in addition to the £40m of investment announced by Network Rail last month
to improve performance on the southern end of the West Coast Main Line
through a programme of work aimed at tackling the most common cause of delay.
Alongside this project
Network Rail intends to increase the line speed
of the fast lines through Watford to 125 mph,
from the current 80mph
and is investigating the feasibility of this.