The upgrade should lead to improved services on the West Coast Main Line. Over 1,000 extra trains every week will run and journey times will be slashed by up to 30%. Freight users will enjoy a 70% increase in capacity.
"It has been a long road to this day, but Network Rail has delivered West Coast on the day we said we would," said Network Rail’s chief executive Iain Coucher. "The infrastructure is now ready for next weekend for the introduction of new, faster, more frequent services across the route."
The 50% increase in services to Manchester and Birmingham and the almost doubling of services at the weekends will be introduced immediately but there will be a phasing in of the remaining services over a six week period.
"This has been an extraordinarily complex project to rebuild Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway," said Coucher. "Now it is complete passengers and freight operators will reap the benefits. Network Rail has made good on decades of underinvestment, and will continue to invest in the route in the years ahead as demand continues to grow."
The project involved:
- Changes to all 13 major junctions on the route, including a significant bottleneck at Rugby, enabling trains to travel at up to 125mph
- Laying more than 36km of new track through the Trent Valley
- 174 new or altered bridges
- 53 new or extended platforms
- Replacing of over 800 points