Network Rail urged to keep Easter delays to a minimum

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The Independent Online

Rail passengers face delays and cancellations to services over the Easter period as Network Rail carries out engineering work.

And after the serious New Year work overruns, Network Rail is under intense pressure to ensure this next batch of bank holiday projects is completed on time.

The worst of the three overruns over Christmas and the New Year period was on the West Coast line at Rugby in Warwickshire. Further work is scheduled for this section over Easter, with Euston station in London being closed to Virgin West Coast services from Easter Saturday.

Another of the engineering overruns at the New Year was at Liverpool Street station in London. Easter work will also be going on there which will affect National Express East Anglia services.

The Network Rail chief executive, Iain Coucher, said: "While we know that our plans affect passengers' plans, the demands on our rail network are growing and we need to invest to deliver a better service for everyone. The vast majority of the railway is open for business this Easter, but our investment programme will impact services on some major routes. Passengers are strongly advised to check before travelling."

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the rail customer watchdog body Passenger Focus, said: "As long as passengers are able to easily access information and plan their journeys, they will be more understanding of the short-term inconvenience. However, Network Rail must keep its promises and complete work on schedule."

Meanwhile, workers based at a Network Rail electrical control room are set to strike over the bank holiday in a row over jobs and warned that it could disrupt services.

The Rail Maritime and Transport Union said workers at the site in York will walk out next Wednesday evening until early on Easter Monday. Network Rail said that it had contingency plans in place to prevent disruption and denied union warnings that services on the East Coast mainline would be "severely affected".

Easter week is one of the busiest times for the rail network with seven million passengers expected to travel by train between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

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