Network Rail is exploring options to improve the railway in and around Stafford to deliver a more reliable network for passengers. Ideas are being developed for the main line in the vicinity of Norton Bridge, with initial assessment work commencing this summer.
The existing layout of the railway around Stafford restricts both capacity and performance along the main line, which is the key artery linking London, the North West and Scotland. Improving key junctions in the area, combined with signalling and track improvements will provide greater reliability and allow for extra train services to run.
Options to upgrade the railway in the area will be considered over the coming months after an initial exercise has been completed to identify the various bodies that Network Rail is legally required to notify. This is due to be carried out ahead of public consultation later this year.
Jo Kaye, route director at Network Rail, said: “Britain relies on rail and with demand for rail travel increasing it is essential we invest in the railway to provide a better service for passengers, with more trains, additional seats and fewer delays. Over the past few years we have significantly improved the west coast main line and today it is one of the most popular routes in the country.
“This important route can be further improved if we address the existing constraints in the Stafford area. Early studies are being undertaken to explore how this can be achieved and we are keen to work closely with local communities and interested stakeholders to progress any future plans.”
Staffordshire County Council Leader, Philip Atkins, said: “We welcome any improvements for rail passengers in and around Stafford. Good rail links are important to the county’s infrastructure and economic viability. Consultation with passengers and organisations affected is an essential part of this process and we hope people will have an input into the proposals put forward.”
Cllr Doug Davis, Cabinet Member for Planning & Regeneration at Stafford Borough Council, said: “We are pleased that Network Rail is committed to extensive public consultation, and await details of the scheme with interest.”
Feedback gathered will be taken into consideration in any future scheme Network Rail takes forward. Detailed consultation with interested stakeholders and local communities will be undertaken before any future plans are progressed. It is anticipated public consultation will start later this year and continue throughout 2011 before a final scheme is prepared in 2012.