New signalling at Stafford completed on time and on budget: Signal testing at Stafford

Tuesday 1 Sep 2015

New signalling at Stafford completed on time and on budget

Region & Route:
| North West & Central

Passengers were on the move through Stafford again this morning (1 September) after new railway signalling was successfully installed over the bank holiday weekend.

The new system, part of a £250m investment programme, will help to improve performance, reliability and train speeds on the West Coast main line in the Stafford area.

Engineers worked around the clock from the close of service on Friday August 29 until two hours before the first scheduled trains ran today.

The Staffordshire Alliance of Network Rail, VolkerRail, Laing O’ Rourke and Atkins has delivered the work on time and on budget.

Mark Killick, area director for Network Rail, said: “It’s been an exceptionally busy period for us at Stafford culminating in a tremendous effort over the bank holiday.

“We want to thank passengers and the local community for their patience. We’re delighted to have delivered this vital work on time and on budget. It will bring many long-term benefits.”

Seventy-eight modern signals were installed as infrastructure was updated in the Stafford area. A new goods loop has also been built for freight trains and all platforms at Stafford can now accommodate trains in either direction.

The work is the second phase of the Stafford Area Improvements Programme, which is removing a major bottleneck on the West Coast main line at Norton Bridge, delivering the capability to run more freight and passenger train services.

The first phase of the Stafford Area Improvements Programme, completed ahead of schedule in March 2014, improved line-speeds between Norton Bridge and Crewe.

The latest phase to be completed, the re-signalling at Stafford, includes the construction of a new rail-over-rail flyover at Norton Bridge, which is set to be commissioned at Easter 2016.



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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