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West Coast Projet now completed

12/19/2008 AT 08:25

The last piece of work on Network Rail's £9bn upgrade of the London-Scotland West Coast main line was completed at Rugby, heralding a step-change in the frequency and speed of train services from next weekend.

The achievement is massive and the result will be a quantum leap in services. As of December 14 over 1,000 extra trains every week, will run and journey times slashed by up to 30%. Freight users will enjoy a 70% increase in capacity while weekend passengers travelling to places such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham will also benefit with shorter journey times and more services.

Iain Coucher, Network Rail's chief executive said: “It has been a long road to this day, but Network Rail has delivered West Coast on the day we said we would. The infrastructure is now ready for next weekend for the introduction of new, faster, more frequent services across the route."

Although the new timetable sees a massive step-change in the level of service on the route, it will be a gradual ramp-up to the introduction of the full timetable. The 50% increase in services to Manchester and Birmingham and the almost doubling of services at the weekends will be introduced immediately - over 1,000 trains in all, per week - but there will be a phasing in of all the new services over a six week period as we allow time for the new timetable to bed in. A further 100+ services will be introduced gradually over the next six weeks, with the last tranche on 26th January 2009.

Mr Coucher continued: "This has been an extraordinarily complex project to rebuild Europe's busiest mixed-use railway. 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.

“When Network Rail took over this critical project it was a mess. Railtrack left the scheme billions of pounds over budget and undeliverable. Five years down the line, learning the lessons from New Year, Network Rail has re-written the rule book on project delivery, successfully hitting over a dozen key milestones in 2008.”

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The new Virgin Trains' timetable from 14 December represents “the most frequent long-distance inter-city service in Europe”, according to Brendan Fox, Editor of Thomas Cook's European Timetable.

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3 Motorists a week dicing with death at LC

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Liverpool depot expands to meet growing demand

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network rail signs skills pledge

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Train performance reaches an all time high

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