Published on : Monday, April 25, 2016
Train passengers heading through the Stafford area are being reminded to check before they travel over the May bank holiday weekends.Network Rail engineers, as part of the organisation’s £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan, will be working at Stafford to remove one of the last major bottlenecks on the West Coast main line. This will create capacity for additional passenger and freight services in future between Birmingham and Manchester, London and the North West, as well as improve reliability and journey times.
Lines between Stafford and Crewe will be partially closed for works from Saturday 30 April – Saturday 7 May and Saturday 28 May – start of service Tuesday 31 May so engineers can consolidate the £250m upgrade work to the railway.
Cross Country and Virgin Trains long-distance services are being diverted, adding up to 25 minutes to journey times and some local London Midland services are being replaced with buses during the work.
Martin Frobisher, route director at Network Rail, said: “We thank passengers once again for their patience as we put the finishing touches to a scheme which will remove one of the last major bottlenecks on the route and improve the reliability of the railway and speed of trains though the area. The work will also enable more freight and passenger services to run through the area and on the entire West Coast main line in future.
“The opening of the new flyover and railway in the Norton Bridge area at Easter marked the culmination of four years’ work which will help provide passengers with a more reliable and better performing railway though the Stafford area on the West Coast main line, one of the busiest rail routes in Europe.
“Building this new railway to improve services for passengers is part of our wider £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan, which will help meet the demands of an increasing number of passengers for many years to come. Our investment also helps the railway support economic growth, job creation and house building around Britain.”
Andy Cooper, managing director of CrossCountry, said: “Completion of these works over the May bank holidays will ensure we will be able to take full advantage of the extra capacity the new flyover provides, delivering faster journeys and more reliable services.
“Regrettably these works require our trains to be diverted and we are asking anyone travelling over the May bank holidays to check their journey details carefully, as some customers journeys may take slightly longer.”
Phil Bearpark, Executive Director of Operations and Projects at Virgin Trains, said: “We have worked closely with Network Rail to keep disruption to a minimum, whilst this important work is carried out. We advise customers to check before they travel and thank them once again for their patience and understanding. The final touches to the work at Stafford will improve the rail network and offer increased reliability in the future.”
Steve Fisher, head of regional services at London Midland, said: “The new track layout at Norton Bridge is a major game changer of trains serving or travelling through Staffordshire. It will allow local and long distance services to pass through the county more easily making better journeys for everyone.”
Over 11,000 members of Network Rail’s orange army will be working across the country over the long weekend (30 April-2 May) to deliver vital elements of the company’s £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan, which will provide a bigger, better, and more reliable railway for passengers and businesses across Britain.
A total of £33m will be invested over the May Day weekend, with the work planned to minimise disruption to passengers – when passenger numbers are typically fewer than half. Compared with the recent Easter programme, there will be significantly less disruption on major routes with the overwhelming majority of journeys unaffected.
The new section of track and a key flyover opened to trains at Norton Bridge following the Easter bank holiday, allowing trains travelling to Manchester from the south and West Midlands to travel over, rather than across, the existing tracks.