Tuesday 13 May 2003


Region & Route:
Open for business. That’s the message as local stations in North Staffordshire and Cheshire prepare for the start of major engineering works this weekend. Forming part of the multi-billion modernisation of the West Coast Main Line, the £200 million works are focused on Colwich (south of Stafford on the Trent valley line) to Cheadle Hulme near Stockport, with teams of engineers preparing to start on Sunday, 18th May, right the way through to 27th September 2003. Explained West Coast Project Director James Martin: ‘This demonstrates the coming together of the rail industry under the direction of the Strategic Rail Authority, to adopt a new and more efficient way of working which will enable us to provide a 125mph railway by Winter 2004.’ Split into three sections – Colwich to Macclesfield, Macclesfield to Cheadle Hulme and Crewe to Kidsgrove – the works include: ·        71 miles of track renewal ·        10 miles of ballast works ·        40 miles of sleeper replacements ·        30 switches and crossings renewals ·        Overhead electric line works ·        58 bridges to be improved/maintained ·        Tunnel improvemrnt works at Hibel Road (Macclesfield) and Prestbury.  Gauging works and new improved track formation to allow larger freight trains to use the route. ·         Stoke Station (platform undercroft works and lifts) ·        Crewe – Kidsgrove – route electrification ·        Crewe – Kidsgrove – track renewals, embankment and formation works During the works, all stations will remain open with local services along the affected route being replaced by coaches and buses and long-distance services diverted via Crewe. Train operators including Virgin, Central Trains and First North Western will be providing: ·        Express road links between major stations and the nearest connection point with the rail network ·        Rail/road interchange arrangements ·        Extra staff to assist passengers transfer ·        Special arrangements for mobility impaired passengers ·        Transport provided for accompanied cycles, heavy luggage and dogs ·        Clear and concise passenger information. Freight services will also continue to run, with diversionary routes put in place and additional works helping to provide alternative routes in the future. Commented James Martin: ‘Every effort is being made is being made to ensure these works are carried out safely, effectively and efficiently, with a robust and reliable alternative transport system for local travellers during this period.’ Added Vernon Barker, Managing Director of First North Western, whose services operate along the route: ‘We want our passengers to keep faith with us during this period and as such, we are putting in place an extensive programme of customer care and are providing a series of bus links when our trains cannot run.’ And Chief Executive of Virgin Trains Chris Green believes the lessons learnt during a series of weekend closures last year will help to ensure a smooth transition.  ‘In planning this operation, we have used the experience gained from the Milton Keynes to Hemel Hempstead engineering work last year when up to 50,000 passengers were successfully conveyed each weekend,’ said Chris. Added Central Trains Managing Director Nick Brown: `This is a major undertaking, vital for the future of the rail network and the economy. While the work is being carried out, we are determined to offer quality alternative road transport so that passengers will continue to travel with us’.

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