Check before you travel as August bank holiday signals second stage in Stafford rail development: New sidings installed at Norton Bridge

Tuesday 25 Aug 2015

Check before you travel as August bank holiday signals second stage in Stafford rail development

Region & Route:
| North West & Central

Passengers are being advised to check before they travel this bank holiday weekend as long-term improvements being made to the railway near Stafford will cause short-term changes to normal services.

The vital work – which will improve performance, reliability and line speed in the Stafford area – will be carried out from the close of service on Friday (29 August) until the first trains on Tuesday 1 September.

Trains will not be running through Stafford with Virgin Trains, CrossCountry and London Midland services being diverted. Buses will operate between Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford calling at Stone. London Midland trains between Liverpool and Birmingham will be running between Liverpool and Crewe only. Buses will be replacing trains between Crewe and Birmingham, calling at the intermediate stations normally served by these trains.

The closure is necessary to complete the re-signalling of the Stafford area which will see 78 modern signals installed. The upgrade will boost the reliability of the equipment on this section of West Coast main line and will mean all platforms at Stafford station will be able to accommodate trains in either direction.

Mark Killick, area director for Network Rail, said: “This is vital work will help to deliver regional and national benefits as the demand for passenger and freight services continues to increase on the West Coast main line.

“We have carefully planned the work to take place over the August bank holiday weekend when it is traditionally quieter. However we appreciate that it will still cause disruption to passengers and I thank them for their cooperation and patience.

“Working with London Midland, Virgin Trains and CrossCountry, we want to make sure that everyone who plans to travel over the bank holiday is prepared and has made the best choices to help them make their journey.”

Gary Steele, train service planning manager at Virgin Trains, said: “The work at Stafford and Norton Bridge, which includes 78 new signals, improved track layouts and a new flyover, will increase capacity, reduce journey times and improve reliability. All of which adds up to a better experience for our customers.”

"Customers who must travel in the Stafford area should be aware that their journeys will take longer and could be busy. Passengers are strongly recommended to seek advice from Virgin Trains staff or check for information on the Network Rail or Virgin Trains websites when planning their journey.”

Steven Fisher, head of regional services at London Midland, said: “The works in August will affect a number of routes across our network and London Midland will be running rail-replacement bus services over the Bank Holiday weekend, so if you need to travel along the affected route during the closures, remember to allow plenty of time, plan ahead and check before you travel.

“There isn’t an ideal time for improvement works to take place, but we have worked closely with Network Rail and other affected train operators to ensure that passengers are kept up to date and that disruption is kept to a minimum.

“When the works are complete in 2016, journeys to the north west will be faster and more reliable.

“I’d like to thank our passengers in advance for their patience and cooperation, while these essential works take place.”

The work at Stafford is part of a £250m programme of investment by Network Rail which has already delivered line-speed improvements between Stafford and Crewe. A new flyover which will carry trains between Birmingham and Manchester over the West Coast main line at Norton Bridge is also being built to remove the last major bottleneck on the route and to help deliver the capability to run more freight and passenger services.

The work is being delivered by the Staffordshire Alliance - a partnership of Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, Network Rail and VolkerRail.

To plan ahead and check before you travel visit


Stafford Area Improvements Programme

With unprecedented levels of passenger and freight growth on the rail network and the West Coast main line full to capacity within the next five years, the Staffordshire Area Improvements Programme seeks to remove a major bottleneck through the Stafford area. Once complete, the £250m programme will facilitate the introduction of new timetables between 2015 and 2017 and create the capability to deliver:
• Two extra trains per hour (off peak, each direction) between London and the north west of England
• One extra fast train per hour (each direction) between Manchester and Birmingham
• One extra freight train per hour (each direction) through Stafford
The programme will deliver this through the following three key projects:
• Phase 1 – Linespeed improvements between Crewe and Norton Bridge, increasing the line speed on the ‘slow’ lines from 75mph to 100mph. Completed in March 2014, these works included modifications to the overhead line equipment and installation of four new signals.
• Phase 2 – Stafford resignalling. The installation of a new freight loop and the replacement of life expired signalling, telecoms and power supplies, with the signalling control transferred from the existing Stafford No4 and No5 signal boxes to Rugby, plus the installation of bi-directional signalling for all platforms and an increase in the ‘slow’ line speeds (predominantly used by local passenger/freight services) from 75mph to 100mph between Great Bridgeford (near Norton Bridge) and Stafford. Running from spring 2014 to late 2015 (with an August 2015 commissioning), the majority of these works will be delivered during weekends and midweek nights.
• Phase 3 – Norton Bridge remodelling. The construction of a grade-separated junction (flyover) at Norton Bridge, including 6 miles of new 100mph railway, 10 new bridge structures and one bridge enhancement, four river diversions, major environmental mitigation works, pipeline, road and footpath diversions and the construction of temporary haul roads. Main works are scheduled to run to 2017, with key commissionings in 2016. As a project of national significance, the Norton Bridge project has been the subject of a Development Consent Order application which was approved by the Secretary of State for Transport in March of this year following a consultation process dating back to 2010.

Staffordshire Alliance - The Stafford Area Improvements Programme is being delivered by the Staffordshire Alliance – a partnership of Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, Network Rail and VolkerRail, working as part of a new collaborative contract that will help to transform the delivery of rail infrastructure projects in the UK.

Atkins - ( is one of the world's leading design, engineering and project management consultancies*, employing some 18,000 people across the UK, North America, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Europe. Our people’s breadth and depth of expertise and drive to ask why has allowed us to plan, design and enable some of the world’s most complex and time critical projects.
*15th largest global design firm (Engineering News-Record 2014) and the third largest multidisciplinary consultancy in Europe (Svensk Teknik och Design 2013).

Laing O’Rourke - A globally diverse engineering enterprise with a commitment to delivering Excellence Plus performance, founded on 164 years’ of experience. It funds, designs, manufactures, constructs and maintains the built environment – providing the facilities to accommodate, educate, employ, transport, care for and sustain communities.

Network Rail – Network Rail is the not for dividend owner and operator of Britain's railway infrastructure, which includes the tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, level crossings and stations - the largest of which we also manage. We aim to provide a safe, reliable and efficient rail infrastructure for freight and passenger trains to use.

VolkerRail - A leading multi-disciplinary railway infrastructure contractor with over 70 years’ project experience in both the heavy and light rail sectors. In addition to the delivery of major projects, it provides design, manufacture, construction, installation and testing services in the following disciplines - electrification, HV power distribution, signalling, plant, track construction, renewals and maintenance. VolkerRail is part of VolkerWessels UK, a multi-disciplinary civil engineering, construction and rail group with a turnover of £700 million. VolkerWessels UK employs c2,000 staff in six operating companies. The group is the UK arm of Dutch based VolkerWessels, one of the largest construction groups in Europe.

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