The West Coast main line reopened on time today after Network Rail completed the third successive weekend of upgrade work at Watford.
Over the bank holiday weekend, including bank holiday Monday, more than 300 track workers and engineers continued to replace and install new sections of railway and parts of the new modern signalling system in the area.
Planning is already underway ahead of the next West Coast main line closure at Watford which will take place between Christmas Eve and Monday 29 December.
Jim Syddall, acting route managing director for Network Rail, said: “The past three weekends have seen a significant amount of work completed which will help to provide a better and more reliable railway on the West Coast main line through Watford.
“I would like to thank passengers for their patience while the work was carried out as it meant longer journeys and alternative routes for many travelling in and out of London.
“The section of track at Watford is one of the most intensively used, high-speed pieces of railway in Britain and has seen tremendous growth in traffic and passengers over the last five years. There are still a further four weekends of work to come, starting with the next closure over the Christmas period.
“There is never a good time to close the railway but this work is essential to provide a reliable railway for the millions of passengers who use this section of railway every year.”
The August closures were part of eight weekend and bank holiday closures which will take place until April 2015. Significant upgrade work is being carried out to improve reliability and punctuality along this section of the railway.
To complete the work more than 21,000 tonnes of stone ballast will be used, more than 28,000 tonnes of waste will be removed from the site and 11,000 new railway sleepers will be installed as part of nine miles of track renewals.
Terry Oliver, London Midland’s head of west coast services, said: “We are really pleased with the number of passengers that followed our advice and chose to travel with other operators during the closures. We’d like to thank them once again for their patience and cooperation.
“We will continue to work with Network Rail, industry partners and key stakeholders when planning the strategy for the December closure, ensuring that inconvenience is minimised and that passengers are kept up to date with the latest information.”
Phil Bearpark, Virgin Trains’ executive director for operations and projects, said: “There is never a good time to close the West Coast main line – Europe’s busiest mixed-use rail route – and we’d like to thank our customers for bearing with us during the disruption this caused.
“Our staff have worked really hard to ensure that those travelling with us or on alternative services have been well looked after and given the correct support to help them make their journeys.
“This is always a learning experience and we’ll ensure that any lessons from the August line closures are built into our plans for the next round of closures planned this Christmas.”
Information will be made available well in advance of the Christmas closure and Network Rail will continue to work with affected train companies to raise awareness. Passengers can plan any journey and get the latest travel information at www.nationalrail.co.uk.