Passengers warned of 16-day closure of major rail route with four weeks to go until it shuts

West Coast Main Line services will be affected for 16 days
West Coast Main Line services will be affected for 16 days

Rail passengers in Wigan are being warned to check their travel plans ahead of part a major intercity route near the borough being closed for more than a fortnight.

Network Rail has been speaking to travellers about the 16-day closure of the West Coast Main Line for work on the Acton Grange junction between Crewe and Preston.

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It is just over four weeks until work begins to upgrade track, cabling, overhead lines and signalling. The junction will be shut between July 20 and August 4.

The junction is part of the West Coast Main Line which runs through Wigan North Western.

And the organisation which operates the nation's rail infrastructure has admitted there will be considerable disruption.

Many train services will be diverted via alternative routes while the engineering work, part of the £27m Great North Rail project, takes place.

Train operators and Network Rail say they have agreed a plan to keep passengers moving throughout the work.

However, that means passengers may have to change onto different trains or buses for sections of their journeys.

Passengers are being urged to check the National Rail website before travelling so they know exactly what to expect.

They are also advised to allow more time for their journeys as services are likely to be busier than usual.

Martin Frobisher, managing director for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “The West Coast main line is Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway. It is the economic backbone of Britain.

“With more than 260 trains using this junction every day, it is vital to keep it in good condition. We need to replace it and upgrade it to ensure a reliable railway for passengers for many years to come.

“To deliver work of this scale and magnitude, we must close the junction for 16 days this summer. The alternative would be many weekends of disruption to passengers and much higher cost.

“We have worked closely with our train and freight operator colleagues to minimise the disruption and to keep as many trains moving as possible. I would urge passengers to plan ahead and check before they travel.”

Robert Nisbet, regional director for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the railway, said: “This vital engineering work is part of the rail industry’s plan to improve punctuality and make journeys better while keeping disruption to a minimum as much as we can.

“We encourage people who are planning to take the train during these weeks to check before they travel by visiting www.nationalrail.co.uk or speaking to their train operator.”

The section of the West Coast main line helps connect Chester and Warrington to Manchester in the east and Wigan, Preston, the Lake District and Scotland to the West Midlands and London.

The summer upgrade will bring outdated track and equipment up to modern standards and further improve the reliability of the route.

For more information on the work and impact visit www.networkrail.co.uk/WCMLActonGrange

For information about train services visit www.nationalrail.co.uk