Electric train services on the Chase Line moved a step closer today as Network Rail, a local MP, London Midland and councillors marked the next phase of work in Hednesford.
Network Rail will electrify 15 miles of railway between Walsall, Hednesford and Rugeley Trent Valley to provide a cleaner, greener and more regular service for passengers.
Network Rail, local MP Aidan Burley, district and town council leaders and London Midland officially started the demolition of Station Road bridge in Hednesford today (20 January), which is the second of three bridges which will be rebuilt to accommodate overhead electric lines needed to run electric trains.
Liam Sumpter, Network Rail area director said: “Electrification helps to boost capacity, reduce carbon emissions and cut the cost of running the railway. Electric trains are also quieter, more reliable and have more seats, providing extra space for passengers.
“By enabling a better train service along this important route, this investment in the rail infrastructure will help to grow the local economy and provide a better service for passengers.”
Aidan Burley MP said: “This bridge rebuild marks the next phase of the Chase Line electrification project which, when complete, will transform journeys for my constituents who catch the train for work and leisure. Electrification will also go a huge way to help support my efforts to bring business to the area, and reinforce the message that Cannock Chase is the place to come to in Staffordshire - to live, work and for leisure.
“I have lobbied very hard since my election to make sure that this project got the go ahead and I am absolutely delighted that all this hard work has paid off and the project is finally now being delivered”
Councillor Gordon Alcott, economic development and planning portfolio leader, said “The district council has been actively working to see electrification for many years. It is gratifying to see works starting on a project that will transform the economy of Cannock Chase.”
Mark Goodall, London Midland’s head of cross city service, said: “London Midland strives to deliver quality journeys for everyone, and this project will significantly improve rail services for customers who travel on the Chase line”.
Work on the upgrade is well underway and the improvements are due to be completed by late 2017.
Rail services will not be affected until spring 2014 when the line will be closed for short periods on Sunday mornings to allow construction work to be completed safely. London Midland will provide a rail replacement service during these periods.