West Coast Main Line (WCML)

WCMLBy 1990s, it was clear that modernisation of the WCML was required. The modernisation plan unveiled by Virgin and the new infrastructure owner Railtrack involved the upgrade and renewal of the line to allow the use of tilting Pendalino trains with a maximum line speed of 140 mph (225 km/h), in place of the previous maximum of 110 mph (177 km/h).

Following fears that cost overruns on the project would push the final price tag to £13 billion, the plans were scaled down, bringing the cost down to between £8 billion and £10 billion, to be ready by 2008, with a maximum speed for tilting trains of a more modest 125 mph (201 km/h) – equalling the speeds available on the East Coast route, but some way short of the original target, and even further behind BR’s original vision of 155 mph (250 km/h) speeds planned and achieved with the APT.

KSEL staff involvement

KSEL was the Systems Performance Manager and was involved in various projects trying to identify ways to improve performance. These include a £1 million project to retro-fit components to the axle counters on West Coast Main Line. We were also national project manager for the review into the future of HPSS point machines.  The FRACAS system introduced by KSEL for Axle counters saved approx. £1m in delay (schedule 8) payments in its first 7 months.

In addition other projects included:

  • bringing in a FRACAS system into WCRM
  • writing computer models to generate business cases
  • performing a QRA and ALARP study into Risk of Fatality of Drivers from OHL Insulator failures and
  • generating several reports for the SRA and ORR

Project value

£8.9bn

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