NETWORK RAIL has confirmed that it is planning a 12 week Christmas blockade of the West Coast Main Line (WMCL) in Cheshire.
The blockade, starting on 11 December, will allow the track operator to upgrade signalling between Sandbach and Wilmslow.
'This signalling system offers line speed benefits and is part of the 2005 timetable for WCML, ' said Network Rail West Coast programme director Tom McCarthy.
Blockades have been an integral part of Network Rail's efforts to bring down the projected cost of the WCML upgrade by reducing reliance on overnight possessions.
As a result they have helped cut projected spend from £13bn to £7.6bn.
The Christmas closure will not affect national rail services, as trains will be diverted to other routes.
Local routes run by train operator Northern Rail between Crewe and Cheadle Hume will be subject to diversions and replacement bus services until March 26 2006.
McCarthy also confirmed that the fi nal leg of the high speed route between Manchester and Glasgow was on schedule for completion by December 2005.