TRAIN services north of York are set to be disrupted from this Saturday for nine days as Network Rail begins an £8.6million project to upgrade the railway at Newcastle station.

This will affect journeys to Thirsk and Northallerton.

A revised timetable will be in operation with some services starting and/or terminating at York, Durham and the Metro Centre.

Some Virgin trains will take a diversionary route between York and Newcastle with journey times extended by approximately 60 minutes from London, while some services will terminate at Darlington.

And the majority of TransPennine Express services on the Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle and Manchester Airport to Newcastle routes will not run between York and Newcastle.

As a result, Thirsk, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Chester-le-Street stations will have a greatly reduced service.

Almost 2,000 passenger trains and 260 freights which usually cross the Newcastle’s King Edward Bridge will not run during the engineering works.

The work will take place between this Saturday and Sunday, January 14, with train services returning to normal on the next day. A total of 19 sets of switches and crossings – more commonly known as points – will be upgraded.

Buses will be used to move passengers between some stations, but trains to and from Newcastle will be extremely busy and passengers are advised to check before they travel.

Rob McIntosh, managing director for Network Rail’s London North Eastern and East Midlands route said: “There is never a good time to carry out railway work which disrupts passengers but this upgrade is absolutely essential and we have worked extremely closely with our train operating partners to keep disruption to a minimum and make passenger information as clear as possible.

“Newcastle is a critical part of our network and by keeping the infrastructure safe and reliable we are meeting the needs of the economies and communities our railway serves for both the short and long term.”

Passengers are advised to check before they travel via National Rail enquiries.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which brings together train companies and Network Rail to enable a better railway, said: “Rail companies are working together with a long-term plan to deliver major improvements to the railway which will boost the economy, better connect communities and improve journeys for customers, now and for the long term. Nationwide, our plan to change and improve the railway will mean 6,400 extra train services a week by 2021, over 5,700 new carriages and more rail jobs in towns and cities across the country.”

Virgin Trains, which manages Newcastle station, said it would provide extra staff and signage.

Virgin will run a full timetable on weekdays, although southbound services from Edinburgh will run 15 minutes earlier until they reach Newcastle. They will then run as scheduled.

Its northbound services will be extended by up to 15 minutes. From 12.15 Saturday 13 January to 13.00 Sunday 14 January, Virgin Trains will run an hourly service between London King’s Cross and Newcastle and Scotland. It will take a diversionary route between York and Newcastle with journey times extended by approximately 60 minutes, while some services will terminate at Darlington.