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Last Updated: Friday, 21 March 2008, 17:44 GMT
Rail boss promises 'no over-run'
Railtrack Chief Executive Iain Coucher
Mr Coucher said it would be business as usual on Tuesday
Network Rail's boss has promised the company will do "absolutely everything" to ensure engineering work over the Easter weekend is finished by Tuesday.

Chief executive Iain Coucher sought to reassure passengers that the transport chaos of New Year, when works over-ran, would not be repeated.

Network Rail was fined a record 14m for the New Year delays.

The Easter works have caused disruption on key routes and the holiday getaway has also been hampered by bad weather.

The main engineering projects are on the East Coast mainline and the West Coast mainline, where work over-ran at New Year.

Speaking at Rugby station, which was closed, Mr Coucher said 80% of the network was running as normal and a full service would resume on Tuesday.

He said: "I can guarantee that we will do absolutely everything that we need to minimise the chance of any kind of over-run.

"We have learnt our lesson. We are very confident that we can do all the work we have to do over these four days."

Scheduled maintenance:
West Coast main line: Closed Good Friday-Easter Monday between Coventry, Rugby and Northampton and from London Euston Sat - Monday
East Coast main line: London King's Cross - NE England and Scotland services diverted via Leeds, 1400 Sat - 1400 Sun
Great Western main line: Didcot Parkway - Swindon and Chippenham services replaced by a bus service or diverted, Fri-Mon
South West main line: Alterations and diversions to services to and from London Waterloo due to engineering works at Clapham Junction, Fri-Mon
East Anglia/Essex coast line: Replacement bus service between Gidea Park, Billericay and Ingatestone

While acknowledging the inconvenience to passengers, he added that the 75m four-day Easter improvement programme had been planned in advance, and alternative routes and bus services had been organised.

Roadworks and high winds have also brought delays and tailbacks for travellers.

And forecasters say there is a chance of snow in Scotland on Good Friday, which may spread south over the weekend.

They have predicted up to 2cm (0.8in) of snow in eastern England and 5-10cm (2-4in) in northern Scotland on Saturday.

Easter has fallen at the earliest date for nearly 100 years, and the weather for much of the UK is expected to be chilly and windy.

Thirty-six rail projects are to be carried out over the Easter holiday, with 6,000 people working about 300,000 man-hours. The work includes laying new track, repairing bridges and updating signalling systems.

'Grudgingly' accepting

There were no trains between Birmingham and London, so passengers heading to the capital were transferred by coach to Northampton, where they resumed their rail journey.

The BBC's Daniel Boettcher said people were "grudgingly" accepting, but the situation was to get worse as there would be no coach transfers on Saturday.

Despite the Easter getaway, the number of journeys - usually around 3.5 million a day - was expected to be down by more than half on Good Friday because most commuters had the day off.

Edward Funnel from the Association of Train Operating Companies said the work was being carried out while fewer people than normal would be using services.

Heavy traffic on the southbound M5 near Bristol on Good Friday
An accident caused a tailback on the M5 near Bristol

He said: "You have got four clear days to get to grip with the network and do some big serious work to improve the network, signals, new track and so on."

On other forms of transport, two million people are expected to pass through British airports this weekend, peaking on Good Friday.

At Heathrow, 187,000 passengers are expected on Good Friday, compared with 200,000 who checked-in yesterday.

The Highways Agency said two-thirds of roadworks had been removed from England's motorways and major A-roads to ease congestion.

A total of 38 sets of roadworks have been completed and a further 47 are suspended until midnight on Monday 24 March.

However, roadworks are still affecting the M1, M4, M5, M6, M11, M25, M42, M48, M55, M56, M57, M60, M62, M65, M69 and many A-roads.

The AA said 6.5 million cars were expected on the roads over the weekend.

Eurostar said it would be carrying a record 160,000 rail travellers through the Channel Tunnel over Easter.

On the London Tube, the Circle, District, Hammersmith and City, Jubilee and Metropolitan lines are affected by engineering works.

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Passengers' views on the Easter works

Rail company defends Easter work
20 Mar 08 |  England


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