SANTA CLAUS may have to pay a special return visit to hundreds of homes across the UK this year, as rail engineers up and down the country work through the holiday period to take advantage of rare track downtime.
Hundreds of railwaymen and women working for Network Rail, Metronet and Tube Lines will be out on the tracks this Christmas to make massive improvements to Britain's overground and underground railways.
Network Rail is particularly busy north of the border this year with engineering work being carried out at locations across Scotland including Dumfries, Falkirk and Paisley.
'Because Scotland's railway is bene ing from more investment than ever, we've got a very challenging schedule to get through this year, ' said route director David Simpson Elsewhere, work begins on the final phase of a £100M signalling upgrade in the Portsmouth area and the Bittern Line gets a £4.5M renewal.
Most challenging project is set to be contractor Nuttall's £1.5M scheme to reconstruct a rail over water and under road bridge (NCE 4 November 2004).
'It's a rail bridge sandwiched between the River Wey and the M25, ' said Nuttall operations manager Alan Cox.
On the London Underground, Metronet is nalising its plans to make good use of the one day of the year that the Tube doesn't run - Christmas Day.
While regular engineers sit back and tuck into their turkey, track workers and signal technicians will be carrying out planned preventative maintenance across the network. They will be at work on track lubricators, points and crossings.
Meanwhile, engineers will be replacing electrical equipment at Oxford Circus, which Metronet is modernising in a £55M investment.