New bridge is the key to major earth-moving at Stafford rail development: Norton Bridge first Load

Thursday 18 Jun 2015

New bridge is the key to major earth-moving at Stafford rail development

Region & Route:
| North West & Central

Tens of thousands of tons of earth can be safely transported within a major rail development site near Stafford and kept off local roads after engineers completed the construction of a new bridge.

Workers are moving 230,000m3 of earth or ‘fill’ – enough material to fill almost 100 Olympic sized swimming pools - across the new road bridge which spans the existing Stafford to Crewe railway line at Norton Bridge.

The completion of the bridge means around 30 tons of earth can be moved at a time by articulated haulers crossing over existing railway lines within the development site.

The works are ‘cut and fill neutral’ which means earth taken from cuttings is used to make embankments or bunds elsewhere within the site.

During the works around one million tons of earth will be moved in total.

When the earth-moving is complete the bridge will form part of a new 1.2km diverted section of the B5026 Stone to Eccleshall Road, set to be opened later this year.

Network Rail is investing £250m in the Stafford Area Improvements Programme to increase the number of passenger and freight services that can operate on the increasingly busy West Coast main line.

A flyover, six miles of new track and 11 new bridges are being built at Norton Bridge to remove the last major bottleneck on the line.

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

Staffordshire Alliance manager Matt Clark said: “It was great to see the first load of earth go across the bridge as it was the culmination of months of hard work and the team is very proud.”

Mr Clark said the bridge works began in January and much of the construction was carried out while trains ran on the Stafford to Crewe line to reduce to a minimum the time the line was closed.

During peak operations 30-ton loads of earth will cross the new bridge every 45 seconds using a traffic light system to fill in between the new bridges near Station Road/Stone Road junction at Norton Bridge.

Local residents wanting further information about the work should contact Network Rail’s national helpline on 03457 114 141; email:; or visit



For further information contact Richard Lakin on 07710 960447 or

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 help to create the capacity to run: 

  • 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.

VolkerRail - 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 c. 2,000 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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