Work has started on the latest phase of a £250m improvement project which will deliver greater capacity and improved reliability on one of the busiest railway lines in Europe.
Work is underway to install new signalling in and around Stafford station and build a new freight loop in the area which will free space for much-needed additional passenger services on the West Coast main line.
The upgrades are part of the Stafford Area Improvements Programme, which will help improve capacity and reliability on the line between Stafford and Crewe. The investment will provide a significant boost to the millions of passengers who use the West Coast main line every month.
Ian Jones, Network Rail programme manager and head of the Staffordshire Alliance, which is 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."
The upgrades 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.
A third phase of the project has been proposed (which is subject to a development consent order) which would see the construction of a flyover at Norton Bridge near Stafford which would untangle the existing lines and remove the last major bottle neck on the route.
When complete, the upgraded section of line will be controlled by Network Rail's rail operating centre in Rugby, one of 12 national centres which will eventually operate the entire rail network in Britain, replacing more than 800 signal boxes and signalling centres currently in use.
The signalling upgrade at Stafford will include:
The majority of the work will take place at weekends and overnight and the improved signalling and line is due to be fully operational by summer 2015.
Network Rail will do all it can to minimise disruption in the local area throughout the duration of the project. Office accommodation for the project will be located at Network Rail's existing maintenance depot at Stafford station and discussions are ongoing with Staffordshire County Council about building a new access point off the A449 which will reduce the impact of project related traffic in the area.
A public information event is being held in Stafford in February where residents and businesses can find out more about the upgrade, the work and what it will mean for them.
It will take place at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, Eastgate, Stafford, ST16 2LT on Thursday 6 February from 4pm until 8pm.
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