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This £100 million project to improve Nottingham’s railway has seen the biggest transformation for the city in over a generation. Engineers have laid six miles of new track, installed 143 new signals, renewed two level crossings and replaced two level crossings with footbridges. We now have an additional platform at Nottingham station, as well as a fully refurbished platform 6 (now 7) complete with a new canopy, which will ensure more flexibility around the station and help us to deliver more reliable train services.
This has been a huge project for everyone involved and we couldn’t have delivered it without the support of our partners and stakeholders. Now that the project has come to a close, I wanted to write and wholeheartedly thank you for your support, both in the lead up to the works and throughout the project itself.
I also thought you might find it useful to hear some of the detail of the work that has taken place over the summer.
An overview of the re-signalling project: Saturday 20 July to Sunday 25 August
The re-signalling project began with arguably one of the most important challenges - transferring operation of the Beeston area from Trent Power Signal Box to East Midlands Control Centre in Derby. This work, over the first weekend of the project, allowed us to run trains into Beeston for the rest of the project, giving the station an hourly service to London and another to Derby.
This first weekend also saw the recovery of all the old signalling equipment from Mansfield Junction, through the station and out to Netherfield. Carlton and Colwick level crossings were also renewed in the first two weeks, although kept under local control until 10 August.
Heavy civil engineering on the track took place over the first three weeks of the project, with more than six miles of track dug up and replaced, and a completely new layout installed from Mansfield Junction through to Netherfield. This was one of the key drivers behind the five-week project as the new junctions were put in place directly over the old ones, instead of being built next to plain line overnight and 'plumbed in' during a short block. Once the lines were in place, only welding and tamping needed to be completed on track in weeks four and five.
Weeks four and five also marked the installation phase for much trackside signalling equipment over the junctions, which couldn't be put in place while the trackwork was underway. This included AWS magnets, TPWS grids, axle counters, and insulated block joints in the station itself. Nottingham station area is the only part of the re-signalling to use traditional track circuitry to detect trains, due to the proximity of the tram network and also the short sections needed in the platforms. These circuits will split the platforms into three (such as Platform 1A, B and C) to allow for the high number of trains stabling and terminating at Nottingham. Previously, there was no indication to the signaller how many trains they had 'inside'.
The formation of the new platform was completed in the first two weeks and has since been filled in. Platform 3 has been resurfaced as well as platform 6/7 which has also had a canopy erected along most of its length.
Testing of the signalling has been almost continuous with installation and the commissioning during the final weekend was the culmination of that, with a test train running across the layout.
A separate £9 million project to relay seven miles of the Robin Hood Line went on for 10 days in the middle of the project. This replaced 1950s-era jointed track with modern, steel sleeper welded rail.
Helping passengers keep on the move
We invested over three years of detailed planning to ensure that our customers faced the least amount of disruption possible throughout the works.
We worked with other train operators to create a simple, easy to understand colour-coded timetable that included every single train and bus service throughout the works.
Our customer service teams worked with 46 bus co-ordinators and around 100 volunteers to help keep people on the move. Equipped with iPads to help find the most up to date travel information for customers, our team of purple clothed volunteers were instantly recognisable and were on hand for over 12 hours a day at different locations to provide advice and help.
Our rail replacement bus services
Our military style bus operation saw around 750 buses and 160 bus drivers a day helping passengers to keep moving around our network. By working in partnership with Nottingham City Council and the Highways Agency, we were able to give access to the most up to date information through specially installed real-time electronic information screens.
We’ve accommodated dogs, bikes, pushchairs and lots of luggage on our buses, and everybody needing to travel on one of our replacement bus services benefitted from an industry-first 15% discount on their ticket.
Our friendly team of volunteers helped to ensure that passengers waiting for buses were given the best service possible. We gave away hundreds of bottles of water to keep people cool and lent people umbrellas when the weather took a turn for the worse. We installed special bus shelters and even had extra toilets and waiting rooms installed at Nottingham and East Midlands Parkway.
Our mascot “Shirley”
Our life-sized Nottingham mascot, Shirley Stressman, was a regular visitor to the station. Taking time away from tweeting passengers through her dedicated twitter feed, @Shirley_updates, Shirley could often be seen at Nottingham station giving out timetables and advice to passengers and posing for photos with excited children.
Shirley also helped us to give out hundreds of blue iced cupcakes to mark the birth of the Royal Baby and red and white macaroons to celebrate England retaining the Ashes. We also surprised people with free hotel giveaways, family day out tickets and theatre tickets.
Keeping passengers up to date with the latest information
We launched our biggest ever communications campaign to make sure customers were fully prepared for the re-signalling works. Special posters, leaflets, a dedicated webpage and twitter feed as well as huge city centre billboards all helped to make sure people had the latest information about our services throughout the works.
Our 24-hour control centre worked with other agencies to get real-time traffic information and project updates to pass on to our customers.
This is the biggest ever project that East Midlands Trains has embarked upon and we have been overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback we have received, which demonstrates the real value of our years of planning with our partners Network Rail.
We now have a railway around Nottingham that has modern, new infrastructure that will enable more capacity on the network and allow us to continue to grow passenger numbers to help the East Midlands economic area. Work continues on the Nottingham Hub project which will create a station that we can all be proud of and Nottingham will have transport links that will be the envy of the UK. With line speed improvements delivering faster journeys to London coming in December and electrification around the corner, this is a great step forward for our region and I would like to thank you once again for playing a part in this success.