UK rail infrastructure manager Network Rail (NR) has started work on a project to refurbish the old bridges and viaducts in Cheshire.
As part of NR’s Railway Upgrade Plan, the £17m refurbishment will make the railway safer and more reliable for passengers, motorists, pedestrians and canal users.
Due to the upgrade work, the line from Crewe to Manchester and Sandbach to Northwich will be closed until 24 February.
As part of the project, the Grade-II listed viaducts at Holmes Chapel and Peover will receive a full makeover, including the removal of water stains on the walls, brickwork repairs and waterproofing.
Strengthening work will also be carried out by NR engineers at the Hungerford Road bridge in Crewe, Shipbrook Road bridge in Rudheath, as well as to the Whatcroft underbridge and the Trent and Mersey Canal bridge in Davenham.
Network Rail area director Terry Strickland said: "While the work will cause some disruption to passengers’ journeys for 11 days, Network Rail has worked with the train operators to ensure all of this work can be conducted at the same time, saving £500,000 of taxpayers’ money and avoiding longer-term disruption.
"I’d like to thank passengers in advance for their patience while the work takes place."
Along with rail operators Arriva Trains Wales, Northern Rail, CrossCountry and Virgin Trains, NR will jointly work to run as many train services as possible during the work.
A Virgin Trains, Northern Rail, CrossCountry trains and Arriva Trains spokesperson said: "We understand that improvement works impact on passengers.
"This investment is vital and will deliver real benefits in helping to provide customers with a more reliable railway.
"All affected train operating companies are working closely with Network Rail to ensure alternative travel arrangements are in place wherever possible and to keep disruption to a minimum whilst this important work is carried out.
"Our advice to all customers travelling between Manchester and Crewe is to check their journey before they travel."
NR noted that during the 11-day closure, services to Manchester from London and South Wales (and vice-versa) will temporarily by-pass Crewe and be diverted via Macclesfield and Stockport.
It is reported that local rail services will also be affected between Wilmslow, Stockport and Crewe, while replacement bus services will be provided and alternative routes will be signposted for all passengers who are affected.
Image: Holmes Chapel aerial view. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.