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Published on : Tuesday, December 29, 2015
The West Coast main line near Stafford has reopened on time after Network Rail’s orange army completed four days of upgrade work to track and bridges over Christmas.While the majority of Britain was tucking into Christmas dinner and resting over the festive period, engineers were out in force to lay track as part of a £250m project to upgrade the West Coast main line – Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway – through Stafford.
Two bridges carrying the railway over local waterways were also replaced as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.The track work this Christmas is vital to help bring a new railway flyover into use at Easter 2016 which will remove a bottleneck on the main route between England and Scotland and provide passengers with a more reliable railway.
Mark Killick, area director for Network Rail, said: “This work is part of a £250m programme of rail investment to help improve performance and reliability of the West Coast main line. It was carefully planned and safely delivered to cause the least disruption to passengers, with work taking place on Christmas Day and Boxing Day when no trains would have run and over the Christmas bank holiday when fewer people use the railway.
“Our Railway Upgrade Plan is consistently delivering improvements and this Christmas has been no different with thousands of the orange army working across the network to maintain and upgrade the railway to meet the demands of the millions of passengers who travel by train every day.”
Network Rail’s £250m Stafford Area Improvements Programme involves bringing into use the new railway flyover over the West Coast main line at Norton Bridge at Easter 2016 as well as linespeed and signalling upgrades between Stafford and Crewe which have already been delivered. All of the investment will provide the capability for more passenger and freight services to run on one of the busiest rail routes in Europe.
Steven Fisher, head of regional services at London Midland, said: “Travelling by train has never been more popular. Improving the network to add more capacity and reliability is essential to meet this growing demand. With fewer passengers travelling over the Christmas and New Year break this is the optimum time to carry out major works while minimising disruption to people’s journeys.”
The work is being delivered by the Staffordshire Alliance – a partnership of Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, Network Rail and VolkerRail.