Carstairs closure opens window to improve safety and performance

In the last three months, Network Rail has delivered more than £2million pounds of investment to improve safety and performance on the West Coast Main Line.

Work to remodel Carstairs junction offered once in a generation access to the key cross border route and teams across Network Rail mobilised to deliver a wide and diverse range of work at multiple locations on the line.

Focussed on improving safety and performance, the extended track access allowed work to be carried out that otherwise, would not have been viable or efficient if restricted to only Saturday nights.

Activity encompassed renewal of overhead lines and track, vegetation management and extensive inspection work on structures to monitor safety and performance and to inform future maintenance and investment planning.

Projects such as the installation of a new £16m access bridge at Ravenscraig and the remodelling of Platform 1 Glasgow Central - planned to coincide with the line closure - delivered significant efficiencies and cost savings. Without the extended track access, it was projected that the platform renewal could have taken more than four years.

Additional Carstairs work during line closure
Additional Carstairs work during line closure

Beyond the major projects, a significant volume of work was progressed to support inspection and operational maintenance on the cross-border route. 356 square kilometres of vegetation was cleared between Gretna and Lockerbie, 40 overhead line wire runs were carried out and repair and maintenance was undertaken on more than 2 kilometres of drainage .

200 lineside embankments were inspected and assessed for their stability and ‘hot weather’ preparation was carried out ahead of the summer months. 68 kilometres of track also benefited from daytime inspection where defects were identified and removed.

In addition, 200 tonnes of redundant material was also cleared from the lineside environment and around access points on the route.

Where limited to just Saturday night access, it is estimated that nine months of work on the line was delivered within the 21-day access window that existed within the wider core programme of the Carstairs Junction remodelling

Non project work during Carstairs junction closure
Non project work during Carstairs junction closure

Liam Sumpter, Scotland’s Railway Route Director said, “The extended track access afforded by the project at Carstairs Junction allowed us to undertake work that, in the normal run of things, would not have been viable or efficient if restricted to only Saturday nights.

“Getting onto the West Coast Main Line in daylight enabled us to carry out thorough and detailed inspection of structures and line-side assets. This informed immediate maintenance work and provided valuable insights to help inform future investment planning.

“Had we used normal access arrangements this work delivered would have stretched over many months and years and would have been considerably more costly. Instead, we have delivered more for less in a way that has reduced disruption for lineside neighbours and for our passengers.