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Norton Bridge rail flyover opens

Norton Bridge

The Norton Bridge flyover in action

At 5.11am this morning (29th March), the first train used the new flyover at Norton Bridge, a development that will speed up journeys and improve reliability in the Stafford area.

The flyover and new track 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 £250 million investment, part of Network Rail’s £40 billion 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.

Norton Bridge

The completed Norton Bridge flyover over the West Coast main line

The first train over the new flyover, at Norton Bridge, was the 5.11am CrossCountry service from Manchester to Bournemouth.

The chairman of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy, said: “The opening of the new flyover and railway in the Norton Bridge area marks the culmination of four years’ work which will help provide passengers with a more reliable and better performing railway though the Stafford area on the West Coast Main Line, one of the busiest rail routes in Europe.

“We have removed one of the last major bottlenecks on the route which will improve the reliability of the railway and speed of trains though the area. It will also help run more freight and passenger services through the area and on the entire West Coast main line in future. Building this new railway to help provide improved services for passengers is part of our wider £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan, funded by the government, which will help meet the demands of an increasing number of passengers for many years to come. Our investment also helps the railway support economic growth, job creation and house building around Britain.”

The scale of the project is vast with more than 200 engineering trains used to deliver materials to site, removing 5,200 lorry journeys from the local road network. Four rivers have been diverted, 11 new structures built and more than 4,000 men and women were involved in the upgrade.

Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Economy, Environment and Transport, added: “The opening of the scheme today is great news for Staffordshire rail passengers as it will not only speed up journeys, but will also allow more frequent services to run. Staffordshire really is at the heart of major transformation of our roads and railways and as a county council we are committed to getting the best results and maximum benefits for the people of Staffordshire.”

Once complete, the £250 million Stafford area improvement programme will see 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, one extra train per hour (each direction) between Manchester and Birmingham and one extra freight train per hour (each direction) through Stafford.

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