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Improvements to rail services underway as part of Network Rail upgrade programme

Feb 2, 2021 | Leisure & Lifestyle

Rail passengers in the North East will soon benefit from a better, more reliable rail service as a major project to modernise signalling continues.

The huge upgrade is part of a multi-million-pound project on the Durham Coast line in the Billingham/Stockton area, where the old signal-box based signalling system for controlling trains is being relocated to a state-of-the-art centre in York.

For this work to take place safely, there will be some road closures, with signposted diversions in place. There will also be the following changes to train services:

  • Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 January – Buses will replace trains between Hartlepool and Middlesbrough/Nunthorpe.
  • Saturday 6 and Tuesday 9 February – Buses will replace trains between Hartlepool and Stockton and between Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

Chris Gee, Operations Director for Network Rail, said: “These improvements between Stockton-on-Tees and Billingham are vital to modernise the railway and bring more reliable services for passengers.

“We want to thank passengers for continuing to follow the latest government guidelines. Some of this work can only take place safely when there are no trains on the line. If you have to travel, please check your journey and allow plenty of time.”

In order for these vital improvements to take place and to make space for the new equipment, teams will also remove Norton West signal box on Blakeston Lane and Billingham signal box on Station Road.

While the signal boxes have become a well-recognised and much loved part of the community over the decades, the cost of keeping these now tired buildings standing without an operational purpose is significant, and regrettably only those with listed status will be able to be preserved.