Posted on May 26, 2017 · Posted in General IRO news, North West & Wales

Simon Clifford of Network Rail, who was Network Rail’s Project Manager for the Norton Bridge scheme kindly agreed to give the IRO NW & W a presentation on the project on 6th October 2016 at TfGM Offices, 2 Piccadilly, Manchester.

Simon Clifford gave an excellent presentation explaining the project, the alliances, and the methods that proved successful in delivery. The event was well attended, and there was a fairly comprehensive Q & A after the presentation. Network Rail has invested huge amounts of public money into the rail network over the last 10 years, and the WCML has been involved with some significant upgrades to the infrastructure. One major upgrade that was completed to the benefit of the industry, is the remodelling and grade separation of the track layout at Norton Bridge in Staffordshire which was completed in May 2016, ahead of schedule, and within the budget!

Some of the methodology was instituting an innovative (for the UK) method of forming collaborative alliances between the major contractors, known at the “Australian Alliance Model”. The enhancements were delivered by the Staffordshire Alliance, a partnership of Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, Network Rail and VolkerRail, working as part of the collaborative contract that helped to transform the delivery of the Norton Bridge rail infrastructure project successfully

Salient points of the Project Improvement Works:

– The Norton Bridge project sees the construction of a new railway flyover, removing a key bottleneck at Norton Bridge Junction and segregating intercity, commuter and freight traffic. Main works started in Spring 2014 and included:

  • A new flyover, removing a key bottleneck at Norton Bridge Junction and separating intercity, commuter and freight traffic.
  • 10 new bridges and one bridge enhancement.
  • A major realignment of the B5026 highway.
  • Road, river and footpath diversions.
  • The diversion of two high pressure gas pipelines by National Grid.
  • Major environmental mitigation works to protect flora and fauna including great crested newts, barn owls and otters.
Diagram by Network Rail

Diagram by Network Rail

– Construction of a brand new grade separated flyover at Norton Bridge to replace the previous flat junction.

– Increase in line speed on the Fast Lines to 115 mph through Norton Bridge.- Line speed improvements on the Slow Lines between Stafford and Crewe to enable 100 mph running.

– Replacement of life expired signalling equipment – 100 new signals brought into use.

– Closure of two signal boxes at Stafford – Stafford No.5 (built 1952) and Stafford No.4 (built 1962.

– Transfer of signalling control to the brand new ROC at Rugby.

– Installation of a new goods loop at Stafford to allow better regulation of freight trains.

Some Notable Benefits:

– More services

  • Two extra trains per hour (off peak) in each direction between London Euston and the North West.
  • One additional fast train per hour in each direction between Manchester (Stone) and Birmingham.
  • One additional freight path per hour in each direction through Stafford via Trent Valley, helping take lorries off congested roads such as the M6.

– Faster journeys

  • The improvements between Crewe and Norton Bridge, completed in March 2014, increased the maximum speed on the “slow” lines used by freight and local passenger trains from 75 to 100 mph.
  • Further linespeed increases between Stafford and Great Bridgeford (just south of Norton Bridge) followed from August 2015, after the re-signalling work around Stafford is completed.

Timeline for the Norton Bridge Project:

Timeline for the Norton Bridge Project

1. February 2013: Work to increase the line speeds starts
2. Early 2014: Stafford re-signalling on-site work starts
3. Spring 2014: Work starts on the Norton Bridge flyover and associated works
4. Spring 2014: Work to increase line speeds between Crew and Norton Bridge from 75 mph to 100 mph completes
5. Summer 2015: Commissioning of Stafford re-signalling including the closure of signal boxes 4 and 5, this section of the West Coast Main Line is controlled by a new operating centre at Rugby
6. Winter 2016: Work on the new track and signalling around Norton Bridge completes (one year ahead of schedule)
7. Winter 2017: Introduction of the new West Coast Main Line timetable