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Contracts awarded on first phase of £300M rail works

Great north rail project

Network Rail has announced the contractors appointed to the first phase of its £300M upgrade to improve commuter services into London.

The first phase of works is an upgrade to the southern end of the Brighton main line focused on four Victorian tunnels, stopping leaks and providing reliable drainage away from the tracks. The track, third rail power system and signalling will all be replaced or upgraded. 

Further along the line track will be renewed, sets of points will be replaced and fencing will be improved to deter trespassers.

S&C South Alliance has been appointed to renewals and associated conductor rail and point heating enhancements at Balcombe Tunnel and Copyhold Junctions. Colas Rail will undertake the plain line track renewals at Clayton Tunnel.

Kier has been appointed to signalling upgrade works between Haywards Heath and Preston Park, and Atkins will take on signalling upgrade works at Balcombe Tunnel Junction. Bam Nuttall is completing tunnel shaft drainage and earthworks.

Network Rail said details of other works are yet to be confirmed. 

Network Rail south east route managing director John Halsall said: “This is a long-overdue upgrade to one of the most unreliable parts of the south east’s rail network.

“Southern and Thameslink passengers deserve better and this work will help us deliver that for them.”

A National Audit Office report published yesterday found that infrastructure failures were frequently to blame for delays and cancellations on Southern and Thameslink services, which have the worst service performance in the country. 

The public spending watchdog said that 37% of all cancellations and delays of more than 30 minutes on the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail franchise were caused by Network Rail, mainly due to failures in the infrastructure and its management of the network between July 2015 and March last year.

The works are being funded by a £250M Department for Transport (DfT) grant and £50M is being “reprioritised” from the existing maintenance budget. A further £600M of improvements are required, the rail operator said, and these are being considered for the next railway spending period beginning April next year. 

The works will take place from 20 October to 28 October this year and from 16 February to 24 February next year, during which time the line will be closed to passengers.

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