Tracks have been laid at Norton Bridge by a specialist railway construction machine in the latest stage of Network Rail’s £250m Stafford area improvement works.
A new 10km section of railway line and eleven new bridges are being built to create a flyover at Norton Bridge and remove a bottleneck on the existing network. The work will improve performance and reliability and deliver the capability to run more passenger and freight trains.
The High Output New Track Construction (NTC) machine works by transporting new sleepers from trailing wagons and places them onto the conveyor systems of a reception wagon.
The sleepers are then transferred to the head of the train’s truss beam using the conveyor system before being placed on to the track bed using the sleeper-drop mechanism. The sleepers are then aligned to the desired spacing automatically.
Finally, new rail is run through a series of rollers/clamps and then clipped into the sleepers. The NTC machine can lay up to 180 metres of track per hour and is up to 50 per cent quicker than conventional track laying methods.
Earth has been excavated from a cutting (14 metres at its deepest) for the new line and this is being used to create embankments and bunds to protect wildlife elsewhere within the site. Around one million tonnes of earth has been moved.
The final phase of the programme is the new rail over rail flyover at Norton Bridge which will be completed for Easter 2016. The NTC machine returns to Norton Bridge in November and December for further track-laying work.