Rail users will have to endure months of disruption to train services next year to allow £200 million of improvements at Derby Midland Station to take place.
But Network Rail, which will be carrying out the work, said that Derby rail users will feel the long-term benefit once the project is complete. The firm, which is responsible for improving and maintaining the UK’s rail network, has now released a schedule for the work to take place.
Network Rail engineers will be on site next year from July 22 to October 7. The work will involve the removal of track and signalling, which means that their will be “significant” changes to the timetable during this period. A detailed timetable will be published at the start of next year – but in the meantime, Network Rail has warned that a number of services will be disrupted.
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This includes East Midlands Trains services to London, Crewe, Matlock and Nottingham. And CrossCountry services will divert around Derby, with a bus replacement service from Derby to connecting stations. The scheme will see the track and signalling at Derby modernised – something which Network Rail says will improve journeys.
It said that while the station itself was modernised in 2013, the existing track layout has remained unchanged since it was installed almost half a century ago. As for the signalling, it has not been upgraded since the 1960s. At present, due to the outdated track and signalling at Derby, some trains have to wait before entering the station.
Network Rail has said that the improvements will solve this problem and will ultimately improve journey times and the overall efficiency of the station. It said that the doubling of passenger numbers over the last 20 years – which are predicted to continue to rise – had made the work at Derby essential.
Rob McIntosh, managing director for Network Rail’s London North Eastern and East Midlands route, said: “It is many decades since the rail infrastructure at Derby saw this kind of investment and we have spent a huge amount of time working with our train operators, stakeholders and local businesses to make sure we keep disruption to a minimum while getting this vital work done as quickly as possible.
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“Derby is a key interchange on the Midland Main Line and once the upgrade is complete and the bottleneck removed, the region will benefit from a more efficient, reliable and modern network fit to meet the needs of the economies and communities our railway serves.”
Backing the plans, Jake Kelly, managing director of Derby-based East Midlands Trains, said: “Our key priority is to ensure that we provide the best possible service for our customers during the works. We are developing comprehensive plans to ensure that we can continue running as many of our London train services as possible, while ensuring that we can offer reliable replacement rail services on the local routes during the times we are not able to operate our train services.”
Andy Cooper, managing director of CrossCountry, said: “These works will mean a long period of disruption for many CrossCountry customers, which is something we’d always try to avoid. However, the journey time improvement they deliver will get our customers to the north east quicker than ever before.
“The railway layout at Derby was great in the ‘days of steam trains’ but does not meet the needs of today’s much busier railway. While there will inevitably be some inconvenience for many, for which we apologise, we are working with our industry partners to ensure this massive project will deliver real benefits for our passengers.”
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The investment by Network Rail has been welcomed by East Midlands Chamber, which represents several Derbyshire businesses. Chris Hobson, the chamber’s director of policy, said: “The investment is long overdue and will be welcomed by the business community and leisure users once the work is complete.
“The tracks and signals are old and the line priorities through the station do not function as well as they should, resulting in delays. There will be relatively short-term pain during the works but the modernisation will offer long-term gain and help deliver a rail network that will better meet the demands of future travellers.
“It must be delivered on schedule and it is essential during the works that rail users are kept fully informed of timetable disruptions, know how to access up-to-date information about services and that alternative access to the services that won’t be calling at Derby station is kept both realistic and practicable.”
Source: Derby Telegraph