Construction of a new railway flyover on the Stafford to Crewe section of the West Coast main line will get under way shortly as part of the £250M Stafford Area Improvements Programme (SAIP).
Network Rail yesterday announced that it was given the go ahead by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin for the project which will also involve constructing six miles of new 100mph railway along with 10 new bridge structures, one bridge enhancement, four river diversions, major environmental mitigation works and pipeline, road and footpath diversions including a major realignment of the B5026.
These works will make up phase 3 of the SAIP. Work on the flyover is due to start imminently and will be completed in summer 2016 to remove a key bottleneck at Norton Bridge Junction and segregate intercity, commuter and freight traffic.
The Stafford Area Improvements Programme is being delivered by the Staffordshire Alliance – a partnership of Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, Network Rail and VolkerRail, working under a new type of collaborative contract.
Head of the Staffordshire Alliance Ian Jones said: “With the West Coast main line set to reach capacity in just five years time, the flyover at Norton Bridge is one of the last improvements which can be made on the route.
“It will remove a major pinch point and allow faster, more frequent and reliable passenger and freight services.”
Once complete, the SAIP is expected to enable extra trains to run between London and north west England and Manchester and Birmingham, with one extra freight train per hour through Stafford.
Phase 1 of the programme was completed earlier this month and saw the line speed on the ‘slow’ lines between Crewe and Norton Bridge increased from 75mph to 100mph. There were also modifications to the overhead line equipment and four new signals were installed.
Phase 2 will involve construction of a new freight loop and the replacement of expired signaling, telecoms and power supplies as well as an increase in ‘slow’ line speeds to 100mph between Great Bridgeford and Stafford. These works will run from spring 2014 to late 2015 and is expected to create a high volume of new jobs.