Published: 15th May 2015
Rail investment often causes inconvenience but Network Rail and train companies are doing their best to warn passengers of major changes because of this investment.
Birmingham New Street is nearing completion of a £500million regeneration project which includes the Midland Metro tram network to serve the station and the proposed HS2 terminal round the corner at Curzon Street.
Passengers arriving at the station by road should be aware that because of the upgrade works to the station, a one-way traffic system starts on May 17 around the station. Hill Street in the city centre will be operating a one way system to allow for essential highways work as part of the final stages of the Birmingham New Street station redevelopment.
The road will be closed to traffic travelling from Navigation Street junction to Hinckley Street until September when the work is complete and the station reopens. The road remains open for traffic travelling in the opposite direction and a signed diversion, via Suffolk Street Queensway is in place.
Passengers arriving at new Street are advised to allow a little longer in case of congestion and if possible to check local traffic reports before traveling.
Chris Montgomery, Network Rail's project director for Birmingham New Street, said: “This is an exciting time for the project as we start to see the finishing touches being put in place before the opening in September, not only inside the building but in the areas surrounding the development.
The creation of an electrified rail network in the northwest is seeing a billion pounds spent and this will cause disruption while lines are electrified.
The next bit of disruption is due to one of the tunnels at Farnworth being closed and rebuilt until Sunday 4 October with only one tunnel and track remaining open to operate a train service. This will enable Network Rail to install electrical equipment such as overhead wires, supporting structures and cable runs in the restricted tunnel.
The loss of one track means an amended timetable running between Bolton and Manchester with Northern Rail and First TransPennine Express trains affected. Trains will be strengthened to help overcrowding while less trains operate. But the advice from the rail authorities is to see if changing your normal travel pattern may help you until October.
They say that around 7,000 passengers use the route between Preston, Bolton and Manchester in peak times with around 2,000 joining at Bolton. If you can avoid Bolton this will help and the alternative route is via Preston and Wigan.
Trains on this route offer more space and more will call at Manchester Victoria and could offer a better travel option than using Manchester Piccadilly. Those who opt for Manchester Victoria can either walk to other Manchester stations or use the free Metroshuttle buses to travel across the city.
Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s route managing director, said: “We have worked closely with Northern Rail and First TransPennine Express so passengers are still able to get to their destinations during this essential work.
“Where possible we need people to avoid travelling through Bolton and use services into Manchester Victoria or travel via Wigan. It will take time to get used to different ways of travelling in and out of Manchester but there will be additional staff at stations across the route to help passengers and lots of information is available to help plan journeys.
“This is essential work and I thank passengers in advance for their cooperation and patience. The upgrade and wider investment will result in a better, faster, more reliable railway that will serve passengers for many decades to come.”
A spokesperson on behalf of Northern Rail and First TransPennine Express commented: “The work will lay the foundations for a much improved railway, where in the future we are able to provide more capacity, faster journeys and a greener travel experience.
“However this engineering project is extremely complex and we appreciate the disruption that it will cause to customers’ journeys.
“There will be changes to train services but trains will continue to operate although at a much reduced frequency and different travel options will be available. In partnership with Network Rail we have conducted a high profile information campaign and we believe the huge majority of customers are aware of the changes.
Customers should not assume that their current commute will operate as normal and check the timetable. “We would ask everyone to be patient with us as we endeavour to keep as many people moving as possible.”
Queuing systems may be implemented at Bolton and Manchester Oxford Road with buses on standby at peak times should they be needed. There will be no weekend rail services operating on this route until the railway reopens on Monday 5 October.