WORK has started on the second phase of a £250m railway upgrade between Stafford and Crewe.
The improvement project, which includes new signalling in and around Stafford station and a new freight loop freeing up space for additional passenger services on the West Coast main line, are part of the Stafford Area Improvements Programme, which will help address capacity constraints and reliability issues on the section of line between Stafford and Crewe.
Ian Jones, Network Rail programme manager and head of the Staffordshire Alliance, responsible for delivering the works, said: “The resignalling of Stafford is part of a wider package of investment in the West Coast main line between Stafford and Crewe which, when complete, will help to boost reliability and capacity and remove one of the last remaining bottlenecks on the route.
“Alongside linespeed improvements currently being delivered between Crewe and Stafford, these upgrades will mean a more reliable, faster and frequent service for the millions of passengers who travel on one of Europe’s busiest rail routes every month.”
A proposed third phase of the project, subject to a development consent order, would see construction of a flyover at Norton Bridge aimed at untangling existing lines and removing the last major bottle neck on the route.
The signalling upgrade at Stafford will include installation of foundations, cable routes and new signals and gantries, new signalling equipment, power supplies and telecommunications equipment, new points and alterations to the existing track layout, conversion of the existing postal ‘siding’ to a new goods loop for use by freight traffic, overhead line works, conversion of platforms 1,3,4,5 and 6 at Stafford to bi-directional working - enabling trains to run in either direction and the removal of two signal boxes from Stafford.
The majority of work will take place at weekend and overnight and should be fully operational by summer 2015.
A Network Rail spokesman said the company would do all it could to minimise disruption in the area throughout the project adding, discussions were ongoing with Staffordshire County Council about building an access point off the A449 to reduce the impact of project on traffic in the area.
Residents and businesses interested in further information about the upgrade and the work can attend a public information event at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Thursday February 6 between 4pm and 8pm.