Region’s rail network will play huge part in free movement of vital supplies

Rail chiefs pledged to use extra capacity on the network through the reduction of passenger services to keep vital supplies and key workers moving over the coming months.

Tim Shoveller, managing director of Network Rail’s North West & Central region, said the West Coast Main Line, including Manchester and Liverpool, will be key to maintining the transport ‘backbone of Britain’.

He said: “Our role in Britain’s c oronavirus response is clear – to keep key workers, including in the NHS and emergency services, as well as food, fuel and medicine moving safely as together we rise to this challenge.

The North West & Central operation is seen as the backbone of Britain. It runs from London Euston and Marylebone through the Chilterns, West Midlands, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Lancashire and Cumbria to Glasgow.

It includes the West Coast Main Line, Europe’s busiest mixed-use (passenger and freight) railway.

Mr Shoveller spoke as a new reduced timetable, agreed by the rail industry in response to the escalating coronavirus pandemic, was brought in today (March 23) offering fewer passenger services and scope for increased volumes of freight.

“We are planning carefully and supporting our railway colleagues, especially those in critical frontline roles, as we all work together to support Britain in its hour of need,” he said.

“The West Coast main line is the Backbone of Britain, the artery connecting London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.

“We must keep it open to ensure vital supplies and key workers get where they’re needed. And that is what we will do.”

He added: “I’d like to publicly thank all Network Rail staff and wider rail industry colleagues for the hard work you’re each putting in to keep the railway open for passengers and freight at this hugely challenging time.”