Multi-million pound upgrade will make West Coast Mainline more reliable, say rail bosses

The West Coast main line near Preston is undergoing a major upgrade with a multi-million project from Network Rail.

Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 7:00 am

The £3.4m Great North Rail Project upgrade will make overhead line equipment (OLE) more resilient on the West Coast main line between Preston and Carlisle, say Network Rail bosses.

Specialist engineers will deliver 60 projects to improve the overhead lines over most weekends between now and March next year.

The jobs include thousands of component replacements undertaken overnight while trains aren’t running to minimise disruption to passengers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Engineering work on the overhead power lines on the West Coast Mainline near Preston

Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: “This major £3.4m investment of the overhead line equipment is an important upgrade to improve reliability for our passengers, and train and freight operating companies on the West Coast main line in Lancashire and Cumbria.

“Putting passengers first, we’ve brought in a specialist team that will work in the early hours of Sunday morning to get our overhead line equipment back into shape.

“This work as part of the Great North rail Project will improve the reliability of the West Coast main line to encourage tourists, holiday-makers, commuters and business people back on to the railway.”

A new generation of engineers will also be trained on how to operate and repair the overhead line equipment.

The project has been planned to take place when trains aren’t running. This will prevent disruption to passenger and freight journeys on one of Europe’s busiest mixed-used passenger and freight railway routes.

For more information on how Network Rail maintains its overhead electric lines, visit