Friday 3 Oct 2003


Region & Route:
A 51 mile stretch of the West Coast Main Line through Stoke re-opened at 4.30am this morning after engineers took an additional week for essential finishing touches. Work on the line between Colwich Junction, in Staffordshire, and Cheadle Hulme, South of Stockport, started in May, with over 1,000 staff working to deliver a safer, faster and more reliable railway. The railway equivalent of building 25 miles of motorway, the 20 week project has seen engineers replacing 71 miles of track (in both directions), as well as sleepers and ballast, new overhead line equipment, signalling and improvements to 33 structures. The project team also faced the challenge of an increasing scope, with works increasing by 20%.  Network Rail Chief Executive John Armitt was quick to praise the general public for their patience and support during the extended works. `We would like to thank the local community for their patience during the extended works and we do apologise for any inconvenience that this may have caused. However, it is essential that this section of line is completed to the very highest standards, so that all concerned can enjoy the long term benefits such as improved journey times and more frequent services,’ commented Mr Armitt. The upgraded route re-opened to passenger and freight trains at 4.30am this morning (Monday 6th October 2003).  Passengers using the Colwich to Cheadle Hulme route who have been inconvenienced by the extended works are advised to keep their tickets (from w/c 29th Sept to 5th October) and send them to one of the affected train operating companies (Virgin, Central and First North Western) where they will be sent replacement vouchers. Further improvement works are also scheduled to start on Sunday 12th October, with engineers working on three of the four lines between Crewe and Norton Bridge (north of Stafford) during weekdays and all four lines at weekends until 2nd January 2004. During this period, trains will be diverted along the newly electrified Crewe to Kidgsrove route. Added Network Rail’s West Coast Project Director James Martin: ‘Our aim is to provide a 125mph railway by September 2004, with Stoke passengers receiving a half hourly service to London, with journey times reduced from the current 1hr 51 minutes to 1hr 32 minutes.’

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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

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