Much of the work, totaling almost £40 million, is already under way and range from overhead line improvements to new security fencing to reduce delays caused by trespass and vandalism.
Network Rail route managing director Dyan Crowther said: “We are not satisfied with the current performance of our infrastructure on the southern end of the West Coast main line, which is one of Britain’s most vital rail arteries.
“This line has seen tremendous growth in traffic and passengers over the last five years and, just like a busy motorway during rush hour, more trains mean that if something goes wrong, the knock-on effects can be significant."
Network Rail has identified almost £40m worth of investment aimed at improving performance by targeting some of the most common causes of delay. Some of the measures will be delivered within months while others are more long-term.
The projects being delivered this year include:
- Overhead line improvements: A specialist team of engineers has walked the entire route between London and Rugby and recommended a series of improvements to improve the reliability of the infrastructure that are being delivered over and above regular maintenance and inspection activity.
- To complement this work, Network Rail is changing the way it stores and analyses overhead line condition data which is captured by two specially adapted Pendolino trains. This change will enable the data to be analysed and essential maintenance work to be completed much more quickly.
- Improved security: Around £10m will be invested to construct more than 11 miles of new fencing along the railway between London and Rugby at key locations, reducing the risk of incursions from people or livestock onto the track.
- Network Rail is also working with London Midland and Samaritans to put in place suicide prevention measures at London Midland stations between Watford and Milton Keynes.
Further north, a major project over 18 miles of railway near Wigan will see new junctions and track installed over nine days in July. In the longer term, similar infrastructure improvements in the Watford area are due ot begin next year.
Virgin Trains chief operating officer Chris Gibb said: “I am pleased that Network Rail has decided to progress all the recommendations and make a £40m investment to improve performance on the southern end of West Coast Main Line for our customers.
“Already we are starting to see that investment actually taking place but both Network Rail and the train operators need to keep the pressure on to ensure that lasting improvements in performance are achieved.”