August Bank Holiday signals second stage in local rail development

y_eImt06_400x400Train passengers are being advised to check before they travel this August bank holiday as long-term improvements to the railway near Stafford cause short-term changes to normal services.

The vital work – which will improve performance, reliability and line speed in the Stafford area – will be carried out from the close of service on Friday 29 August until the first trains on Tuesday 1 September.

Trains will not be running through Stafford with Virgin Trains, CrossCountry and London Midland services being diverted. Buses will operate between Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford calling at Stone. London Midland trains between Liverpool and Birmingham will be running between Liverpool and Crewe only. Buses will be replacing trains between Crewe and Birmingham, calling at the intermediate stations normally served by these trains.

The closure of the railway is necessary to complete the re-signalling of the Stafford area which will see 78 modern signals installed. The upgrade will boost the reliability of the equipment on this section of West Coast main line and will mean all platforms at Stafford station will be able to accommodate trains in either direction. This will help the overall reliability of the railway in Stafford.

Mark Killick, area director for Network Rail, said:

“This vital work will help to deliver regional and national benefits as the demand for passenger and freight services continues to increase on the West Coast main line.

“We have carefully planned the work to take place over the August bank holiday weekend when it is traditionally quieter. However we appreciate that it will still cause disruption to passengers and I thank them for their cooperation and patience.

“Working with London Midland, Virgin Trains and CrossCountry, we want to make sure that everyone who plans to travel over the bank holiday is prepared and has made the best choices to help them make their journey.”

Gary Steele, train service planning manager at Virgin Trains, said:

“The work at Stafford and Norton Bridge, which includes 78 new signals, improved track layouts and a new flyover, will increase capacity, reduce journey times and improve reliability. All of which adds up to a better experience for our customers.”

Customers who must travel in the Stafford area should be aware that their journeys will take longer and could be busy. Passengers are strongly recommended to seek advice from Virgin Trains staff or check for information on the Network Rail or Virgin Trains websites when planning their journey.”

Steven Fisher, head of regional services at London Midland, said:

“The works in August will affect a number of routes across our network and London Midland will be running rail-replacement bus services over the Bank Holiday weekend, so if you need to travel along the affected route during the closures, remember to allow plenty of time, plan ahead and check before you travel.

“There isn’t an ideal time for improvement works to take place, but we have worked closely with Network Rail and other affected train operators to ensure that passengers are kept up to date and that disruption is kept to a minimum.

“When the works are complete in 2016, journeys to the North West will be faster and more reliable.

“I’d like to thank our passengers in advance for their patience and cooperation, while these essential works take place.”

The work at Stafford is part of a £250m programme of investment by Network Rail which has already delivered line-speed improvements between Stafford and Crewe. A new flyover which will carry trains between Birmingham and Manchester over the West Coast main line at Norton Bridge is also being built to remove the last major bottleneck on the route and to help deliver the capability to run more freight and passenger services.

The work is being delivered by the Staffordshire Alliance – a partnership of Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, Network Rail and VolkerRail.

To plan ahead and check before you travel visit www.nationalrail.co.uk