As Britain suffered extensive flooding, sustained bad weather and gale force winds, over 20,000 members of Network Rail’s Orange Army worked on undaunted over Christmas and New Year.

Railway engineers and track workers refused to bow to the elements, pressing on with over 500 projects nationwide. Platforms were lengthened, piling pushed down, track and signalling renewed and electrification projects progressed.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin paid tribute to the Orange Army, ‘Network Rail and the operators have delivered essential improvements to the rail network over the Christmas period. These are crucial for providing better journeys for passengers, progressing key projects such as Crossrail and the Thameslink Programme and nearly £100 million of improvements in Lincolnshire, as part of our record investment in the railways.’

Challenging weather

He went on, ‘I welcome the news that this has been completed on time. I would like to thank passengers for their patience and pay tribute to the men and women who have been working in challenging weather conditions for much of the time.’

A 10-day long engineering project saw a new viaduct brought into use at London Bridge, carrying trains to Charing Cross and Waterloo East. Immingham’s heavily freight- trafficked railway was the subject of a comprehensive upgrade. The Greater Lincolnshire Railway Investment of £96.5 million saw 13 signal boxes closed and 60 miles of track between Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes re- signalled. Around 25 per cent of rail freight, by volume, enters the UK through Immingham.

Proud of our team

At Haymarket East junction in Edinburgh, a £7 million project saw new track and three sets of points installed. In Glasgow, engineers commissioned the new signalling system between Anniesland and Kelvindale. Points were replaced at Doncaster. Track was renewed on the West Coast Main Line near Stafford and two bridges carrying the railway over local waterways were also replaced. In East Anglia, over seven miles of new overhead lines were installed between Ilford and Shenfield.

Assiduous planning and staff motivation were key elements of the successful upgrade strategy.

Says Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne, ‘I am extremely proud of our team who have worked so hard in the planning and execution of the upgrade plan over the last year. This planning allowed them to deliver despite the atrocious weather conditions and is a great example of what the Network Rail team can do.’

Beneath the surface

It wasn’t just Network Rail and its contractors delivering engineering works as the rest of the country was opening presents and overindulging on Christmas pudding. During the festive period, London Underground engineers completed more than 40,000 hours of improvements across the network.

Projects included a new underground section of railway for the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines at King’s Cross and 314 metres of new track at Paddington.

Life-expired point machines were replaced at Heathrow, low noise and low vibration track-securing plates were installed at Earl’s Court and a new station fire escape footbridge was built at Ealing Common.

Other schemes included preparatory works at London Overground’s Gospel Oak to Barking line in preparation for electrification work scheduled for later this year and rebuilding a junction at Acton.

Lead photo: Phil Adams.