Major track improvements underway in latest stage of Transpennine Route Upgrade

Work is now underway on a major project to renew the track between York and Church Fenton as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade.
Date 07.12.21

The Transpennine Route Upgrade is a transformative, multi-billion pound railway programme that will improve connectivity in the North and support economic growth. It will bring faster, more frequent, more reliable services between York, Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester.

This phase of work will continue until Christmas 2021. It involves replacing the track on all four lines on the East Coast Main Line between York and Colton Junction, as well as both lines between Colton Junction and Church Fenton, to enable the route’s line speed to be increased to 125mph.

The work is being carried out by the Transpennine Route Upgrade East Alliance (TRU East), involving Network Rail, VolkerRail, J. Murphy & Sons and Siemens. The Alliance is delivering the infrastructure improvements on the Eastern part of the route between York and Leeds. These upgrades will deliver a high-performing, reliable railway for passengers with more trains and improved journey times.

The Alliance have carefully planned the project to keep disruption to passenger and freight services to a minimum, with the work will taking place over midweek nights.

The Alliance will soon start to prefabricate each 60ft-long section of new track at its new logistics hub at Gascoigne Wood, which will open in October. The new hub, which is just three miles from Church Fenton, includes a 400m rail head, running off the main network to allow engineering trains in and out of the facility.

Each new prefabricated track panel will be delivered pre-installed with signalling bonds, bolt holes and fish plates to join the new sections, which will reduce installation time on-site, enable faster progress, and give greater security around jointing systems. 

Over Christmas 2020, the Alliance carried out work between York and Colton Junction to install 69 overhead line equipment foundation piles, a 65-metre-wide under-track crossing beneath the six tracks at Colton Junction, and adjusted 47 overhead line head-span structures. This work will enable the alignment of track and overhead line equipment to be completed through this section over Christmas 2021.

Between Colton Junction and Church Fenton, the Alliance also undertook one 54-hour and three 29-hour line possessions during July 2021 to enable the lines through this section to be re-aligned into their final position.

James Ramsden, TRU East Alliance Project Lead on the York to Church Fenton scheme, said: “Our teams have worked tremendously hard to ensure this project could move forward into track renewals, and I am immensely proud of their efforts.

“We have worked closely with several stakeholders, to ensure minimal disruption to train and freight operating companies, and thanks to the continued input of Network Rail, have developed a strong and robust plan, which will ultimately provide passengers with a much smoother, more reliable service.”

Stephen Wright, Transpennine Route Upgrade Senior Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “We’ve made major progress between York and Church Fenton ahead of this vital part of the project to renew the track. This work is a step towards boosting reliability and bringing faster, more frequent services. 

“We are continuing to work closely with the TRU East Alliance to compete this part of the upgrade as soon as possible so passengers can reap the benefits.”

This 17km track renewal programme is the start of a continuous programme of work, broken into phases, with the final installation expected to be completed in December 2023.

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