Revised 30 March 2016


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Birmingham to Manchester trains leave the main line at Norton Bridge to continue their journeys to Stoke, Macclesfield, Stockport and then Manchester.

While they cross this busy junction, trains travelling to and from destinations such as Liverpool, Preston, the Lake District, Carlisle and Scotland cannot pass through the Norton Bridge area.

This reduces train speeds and has the potential to cause delays that can have a knock-on effect in other parts of the network.


Map © N. Kirby


In 2013 , a preferred scheme was announced, which included plans for a new flyover to take Birmingham to Manchester trains up and over the main line rather than across it.

Separating the path of train services like this will improve reliability and allow more trains to run on the route.


Construction work is now in progress to build this flyover


The investment will provide:

  • Two extra fast trains per hour between London and the North West
  • One additional train per hour between Manchester (via Stone) and Birmingham
  • One additional freight train per hour through Stafford



Map © Network Rail


The West Coast main line near Stafford has reopened on time after Network Rail's orange army

completed four days of upgrade work to track and bridges over Christmas.


While the majority of Britain was tucking into Christmas dinner and resting over the festive period,

engineers were out in force to lay track as part of a £250m project to upgrade the

West Coast main line – Europe's busiest mixed-use railway – through Stafford.


Two bridges carrying the railway over local waterways

were also replaced as part of Network Rail's Railway Upgrade Plan.


The track work this Christmas is vital to help bring a new railway flyover into use at Easter 2016,

which will remove a bottleneck on the main route between England and Scotland

and provide passengers with a more reliable railway.





Mark Killick, Area Director for Network Rail, said:


“This work is part of a £250m programme of rail investment

to help improve performance and reliability of the West Coast main line.

It was carefully planned and safely delivered to cause the least disruption to passengers,

with work taking place on Christmas Day and Boxing Day

when no trains would have run and over the Christmas Bank Holiday

when fewer people use the railway.


“Our Railway Upgrade Plan is consistently delivering improvements

and this Christmas has been no different

with thousands of the orange army working across the network

to maintain and upgrade the railway

to meet the demands of the millions of passengers,

who travel by train every day.”



Network Rail's £250m Stafford Area Improvements Programme

involves bringing into use the new railway flyover over the West Coast Main Line

at Norton Bridge at Easter 2016


as well as linespeed and signalling upgrades between Stafford and Crewe,

which have already been delivered.


All of the investment will provide the capability for more passenger and freight services

to run on one of the busiest rail routes in Europe.




Two NTCs working towards Bridge 5 at Norton Bridge on adjacent tracks




Steven Fisher, Head of Regional Services at London Midland, said:

“Travelling by train has never been more popular.

Improving the network to add more capacity and reliability is essential to meet this growing demand.

With fewer passengers travelling over the Christmas and New Year break

his is the optimum time to carry out major works while minimising disruption to people's journeys.”










NTC passing over Bridge 5 (flyover)









NTC (track-laying) train passes over the existing WCML at Norton Bridge

on the new flyover (XC Voyager beneath)




The work is being delivered by the Staffordshire Alliance

- a partnership of Atkins, Laing O'Rourke, Network Rail and VolkerRail.







Update 30 March 2016


Passengers benefiting from £250m railway upgrade between Stafford and Crewe


Norton Bridge Flyover in action



Passengers are today (29 March) benefiting from a better railway through the Stafford area

and can look forward to improved services in future

after a new section of track and a key flyover opened to trains at Norton Bridge.


The new railway removes one of the last major bottlenecks on the West Coast Main Line

by allowing trains travelling to Manchester from the south and West Midlands

to travel over, rather than across, the existing tracks.


The new railway removes one of the last major bottlenecks on the West Coast Main Line

by allowing trains travelling to Manchester from the south and West Midlands

to travel over, rather than across, the existing tracks.


This will help create the capacity for more frequent services through the Stafford area

as well as speeding up journeys and improving reliability on the West Coast Main Line,

one of the busiest rail routes in Europe.


The scheme is a £250m investment, part of Network Rail's £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan,

which has also seen new modern, more reliable signalling installed

and improvements between Stafford and Crewe to allow trains to travel at faster speeds.


Work has taken place over the last four years

and has been delivered on budget and 18 months early.


A key part of the upgrade is the new rail-over-rail flyover

which means trains to Manchester, via Stoke-on-Trent,

will now travel over the existing lines

rather than having to slow down and criss-cross the tracks.


The first train over the new flyover, at Norton Bridge,

was the 5.11am CrossCountry service from Manchester to Bournemouth.




The completed Norton Bridge flyover over the West Coast Main Line


Stafford Area Improvements Programme:


With unprecedented levels of passenger and freight growth on the rail network and the West Coast Main Line

full to capacity within the next five years, the Staffordshire Area Improvements Programme

seeks to remove a major bottleneck through the Stafford area.


Once complete, the £250m programme will facilitate the introduction of new timetables between 2015 and 2017

and create the capability to deliver:


  • Two extra trains per hour (off peak, each direction) between London and the North West of England

  • One extra train per hour (each direction) between Manchester and Birmingham

  • One extra freight train per hour (each direction) through Stafford


The programme will deliver this through the following three key projects:


Phase 1 – Linespeed improvements between Crewe and Norton Bridge,

increasing the line speed on the ‘slow' lines from 75mph to 100mph.

Completed in March 2014, these works included modifications to the overhead line equipment

and installation of four new signals.


Phase 2 – Stafford resignalling. The installation of a new freight loop

and the replacement of life expired signalling, telecoms and power supplies,

with the signalling control transferred from the existing Stafford No 4 and No 5 signal boxes to Rugby,

plus the installation of bi-directional signalling for all platforms

and an increase in the ‘slow' line speeds (predominantly used by local passenger/freight services)

from 75mph to 100mph between Great Bridgeford (near Norton Bridge) and Stafford.

Running from spring 2014 to late 2015 (with an August 2015 commissioning), the majority of these works

were delivered during weekends and midweek nights.


Phase 3 – Norton Bridge remodelling. The construction of a grade-separated junction (flyover) at Norton Bridge,

including six miles of new 100mph railway, 11 new structures, four river diversions,

major environmental mitigation works, pipeline, road and footpath diversions

and the construction of temporary haul roads.

The key commissioning of the flyover happened in March 2016 with the project being completed

– including track upgrades on the main West Coast main line – later this year.


As a project of national significance, the Norton Bridge project has been the subject of a Development Consent Order application

which was approved by the Secretary of State for Transport following a consultation process dating back to 2010.


The new cutting which forms part of the £250m Stafford project


Project in numbers:

    Six miles of new railway

    Four rivers diverted

    11 new structures

    1,000 000 tonnes of earth moved on site

    200 engineering trains involved on the project – delivering aggregate and installing the new infrastructure

    5,200 truck journeys removed around from the local road network by using trains

    210 new overhead line structures

    7.5 miles of new overhead line

    3.5 miles of renewed track on the existing railway

    More than 4,000 men and women involved in the project

    Installed 16 new switches and crossings (which allows trains to change tracks)

    Two of switches and crossings are the joint biggest on the rail network

    70 new signal posts and gantries installed

    250,000m of signal cable used


Contact information

Media Relations (North West & West Midlands)
0161 880 3142


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