Thursday, 19 April 2012

Football governing body cares FA for fans

This from Network Rail...

I just wanted to drop you a line about the FA Cup Final, and the expected difficulties for fans travelling to and from Liverpool for the game. We’re obviously very aware of the importance of this game to the club and its supporters.

As you may be aware, both Network Rail and Virgin did tell the FA that the later kick-off time would cause problems for fans looking to travel by train to the match. If the match had kicked off in its traditional 3pm timeslot it would’ve been difficult, but possible for supporters to travel back from the game to Merseyside by rail.

However, the FA has been clear that it wants a 5.15pm kick off as this will enable it to maximise the domestic and global television audience for the game. This has exacerbated the fact that the final has already been moved forward a fortnight, both because the Champions League Final has been moved from its traditional slot on a Wednesday evening to a Saturday (19 May) and as a result of the need to give those players going to the European Championships a longer rest prior to the tournament.

In terms of the work we’re undertaking, some of it has been in the planning for 18-24 months. On the Saturday and Sunday we are rebuilding an entire junction north of Crewe, and we are also undertaking preparatory work for a major resignalling scheme at Bletchley.

At the site near Crewe there are currently five sets of crossovers, all quite close together, that make up the junction. A 30mph speed restriction is currently in place. These crossovers are being completely rebuilt, redesigned, relayed and re-spaced so the junction is opened out. This will allow us to raise the speed limit to 40mph, which will make a difference to journey time and reliability.

On Sunday, near Bletchley, we're undertaking a mixture of substantial track works for the installation of new points and signals as part of the ongoing resignalling project in this area.

Both these pieces of work are vitally important to us. The scheme at Crewe, in particular, has already had to be reprogrammed from April 2010 (when, due to the ash cloud from the volcano in Iceland, domestic flights were cancelled, and we subsequently cancelled all our work on long-distance routes).

Deferring this work would cost the company (and therefore the taxpayer) some £6m to postpone and rearrange. It would cause further disruption to the travelling public at a later date. In addition, this work is so substantial that it’s not feasible to move it to a normal weekend as the work being undertaken needs more time.

Finally, given that we have made a commitment not to work during the Olympic period (approximately six weeks covering both the Olympics and Paralympics) this May Bank Holiday weekend is even more important to us this year than it would normally be.