Network Rail will invest £15m this May bank holiday to upgrade signalling in Sheffield and other parts of South Yorkshire to provide more reliable train services for passengers.
The investment will see the control of signals – the traffic lights of the railway – around Sheffield, Rotherham, Swinton and Mexborough moved to the state-of-the-art Rail Operating Centre (ROC) in York which already controls the signalling across large parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
The complex electrical work will take place over the bank holiday weekend of Sunday 1 May and Monday 2 May meaning some services won’t run with buses replacing trains.
Passengers are urged to check their journey plans before they travel, with all lines set to reopen on Tuesday 3 May.
Rob McIntosh, route managing director for Network Rail said: “Moving the signalling to the ROC is an important step in our £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better more reliable railway for passengers and means that passenger and freight services become more reliable, while also helping to bring down the cost of running the railway.
“Although there is never a good time to disrupt passengers, we know that fewer people travel over bank holidays and we deliberately avoided doing this project at Christmas to help support Meadowhall and the region’s retail economy. I thank passengers for their patience and understanding while this upgrade takes place and assure them that the long term benefit will be worth the few days of inconvenience.”
Jake Kelly, Managing Director for East Midlands Trains, said: “We have worked closely with Network Rail and other train operators to make sure that our customers can keep on moving throughout these works. As well as the major replacement bus service in place on Sunday 1 May, we’ll have extra staff at Sheffield station to help customers with their journeys.
“We would strongly advise anybody planning to travel through Sheffield to check their journey in advance online.”
Alex Hynes, Managing Director for Northern, said: “Investment in infrastructure helps contribute to a real improvement in performance and reliability for our customers on this line of route. Our advice to customers is to check before travelling and allow additional time where they can.”
Transpennine Express', Area Customer Service Manager, Alison Murray said: "It's never ideal to close the railway but these improvement works will enhance the future reliability for our customers, meaning less disruption. We are working hard with Network Rail and other train operators to provide customers with information about their journeys and where necessary alternative travel options. Some journeys will be operated by replacement coach and I would urge all customers to check their travel details."
The vast majority of the work required to ‘recontrol’ the signals from their current location at Sheffield Power Signal Box through to York ROC was carried out before Christmas without disruption to services, and teams will work 24/7 from Saturday night until Tuesday morning to complete the final steps in the process which require the tracks to be free of trains.
Passengers are urged to check before they travel at nationalrail.co.uk. Sheffield Supertram will continue to run and serve all locations, including Sheffield and Meadowhall. Travel South Yorkshire will make a full list of services available at travelsouthyorkshire.com/disruptions.
Press release issued by Network Rail: networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/news