The second phase of upgrades on the railway line between Stafford and Crewe in the UK has begun, with an investment of £250m to provide enhanced capacity and improved reliability on the West Coast main line.

Under the project, new signalling will be installed in and around Stafford station, while a new freight loop will be built to provide free space for additional passenger services.

The upgrades are part of the Stafford Area Improvements Programme and will be carried out by the Staffordshire Alliance; a partnership of Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, Network Rail and VolkerRail.

Signalling upgrade at Stafford will include installation of foundations, cable routes and new signals and gantries; installation of power supplies, telecommunications equipment, new points and alterations to the existing track layout.

"The resignalling of Stafford is part of a wider package of investment in the West Coast main line."

The upgrade will also include conversion of the existing postal ‘siding’ to a new goods loop for use by freight traffic, overhead line works, and conversion of platforms 1,3,4,5 and 6 at Stafford to bi-directional working, and removal of two signal boxes.

Network Rail programme manager and Staffordshire Alliance head Ian Jones said: "The resignalling of Stafford is part of a wider package of investment in the West Coast main line between Stafford and Crewe which, when complete, will help to boost reliability and capacity and remove one of the last remaining bottlenecks on the route."

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Under the proposed third phase of the project, a flyover at Norton Bridge near Stafford will be constructed that would untangle the existing lines and remove the major bottle neck on the route.

The improved signalling and line is scheduled to be fully operational by summer of 2015. Network Rail’s rail operating centre in Rugby will oversee the upgraded section when fully operational.

Image: A Virgin train on the west coast main line. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.