West Coast main
line reopens after August closures help to build a better railway
THE West Coast main line
reopened on time on, 26 August 2014, after Network Rail completed
the 3rd 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
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 2014.
Jim Syddall, acting route managing director for Network Rail, said:-
"The past 3 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 5 years. There are still a further 4 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 8
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 9
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
Phil Bearpark, Virgin Trains'
executive director for operations and projects, said:- "There
is never a good time to close the West Coast Main Line; that is in
fact 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:-
New Liver Bird
for the City
LIVERPOOL'S 807th birthday
is being celebrated with the announcement that a new Liver Bird,
"The Spirit of Liverpool" is to appear in the City.
Work has started on a 6ft modern
version of the historic bird which will welcome millions of
commuters and tourists at the entrance to Merseyrail's Liverpool
Inc have been planning the project for a number of years and are
delighted to have received initial funding from the Liverpool
Commercial District Partnership.
The Liverpool Central Station bird
will be dedicated to the memory of the late Paul Rice, former Chief
Executive of Liverpool's Commercial District Partnership.
Bill Addy, Chief Executive of the Commercial District BID, said:-
"It is fantastic to see that Paul, who did so much to improve and
promote Liverpool, is to be remembered at a high profile City Centre
location in such a striking fashion. The fact that it's the emblem
of the City and his beloved football club; his 2 great passions; is
a fitting tribute."
Local businesses are to be invited to sponsor the new bird which
will carry their names for all time.
It will be located just outside
the entrance to the busiest underground station outside London, used
by 16 million passengers each year.
Hundreds of smaller Spirit of Liverpool Birds have already been sold
throughout the UK and around the world.
Rick Myers, the bird's sculptor
and a director of Liver Birds Inc, said:- "The bird celebrates
the new Liverpool and recognises the massive number of 'firsts' that
have been achieved here over the years, arguably more than any other
City in the world."
Former ECHO journalist, Arthur Johnson, who is also a director of
Liver Birds Inc, said:- "The Spirit of Liverpool has proved a
huge hit particularly with ex-pat Scousers. We expect the 6ft bird
to be a popular photo spot for tourists, football fans and shoppers.
A children's book about the history of the bird, written and
illustrated by Rick Myers, has been published along with a DVD of
the story. A special Liver Bird song has even been recorded. I know
how much the Liver Bird means to the people of Liverpool because
when I was features editor of the Echo there was a suggestion that
the bird should be taken off the City Council's logo. I started a
SOB (Save Our Bird) campaign which received the backing of thousands
of Scousers from all over the world, and the bird is still part of
the Council logo."
Liver Birds Inc have teamed up with Claire House with support from
Liverpool BID Company to create a special Spirit of Liverpool trail
of birds about 2ft high.
In 2015 they will be available for
businesses or individuals to buy and display with a donation from
every sale going to Claire House. The 3rd director of the
company, Paul Andrew, said:- "These will be ideal for
businesses to demonstrate their pride in the City by displaying them
in their windows or reception areas."
Work has now started on the Liverpool Central Station Bird and it is
hoped it will be in place early 2015. City Centre
Councillor Nick Small, who has backed the project, said:-
"This project will create a fantastic piece of artwork that will be
seen by up to 50,000 people a day. It is a fantastic way of
celebrating the City's proud history and showcasing the uniqueness
of the Liver Bird."
For further details of the project, how local businesses can get
involved, how birds, books and DVDs can be purchased go to:-
The Spirit of Liverpool Liver Bird already has a high profile. One
was presented to the Queen as part of the Royal Liver Building's
centenary celebrations and support has been received from many
Liverpool celebrities ranging from John Bishop to Peter Sissons.
The Captains of cruise liners making their inaugural visits to
Mersey are presented with a bird, and the City's Town Crier has 1 on
top of his staff.