Work has started on a major revamp of all the railway tracks and signalling in and around Stalybridge station, which will also see alterations to the platforms, coffee shop and other passenger facilities.
The £20m project is needed because the existing infrastructure is nearing the end of its operational life. The opportunity is being taken to replace it in such a way that it will meet current needs and those of the future when the line from Manchester is electrified in 2016.
Jo Kaye, Network Rail’s route managing director, explained: “The current track layout, particularly the junctions at either end of the station, has remained largely unchanged since the end of the First World War.
“The new layout will give us greater operational flexibility and will be more reliable. So far as passengers are concerned, that means better train services now, with the prospect of faster and more frequent services in the future.”
As well as renewing the tracks, the signalling system will be replaced to reflect the changes, and the speed of trains passing through the station will increase from 40 to 50 mph. Control of train movements in the area will transfer to Manchester East signalling centre in Edgeley, Stockport.
The station itself will undergo some further changes that will include:
Building a new bay platform adjacent to the existing platform 1, near the end of the buffet bar
The widening of platform 2 and extending it alongside the existing bay to create a new platform
Demolition and rebuilding of the coffee shop on platform 2
New waiting shelters, CCTV and station announcements system, and passenger information screens
The work means that the station will have five platforms in future instead of three, so the existing numbering will be completely changed.
Once the new platforms have been built an Access for All scheme funded by the Department for Transport will link all platforms. New passenger operated lifts will be built taking passengers down to the recently refurbished subway, giving disabled passengers, people with buggies and those with lots of luggage, step-free access to the entire station.
Work will continue every weekend until November, except for the period of the Olympic Games, when all major disruptive railway work is suspended.
The new signalling system will be commissioned and brought into use in early November. To relay the junction and carry out the necessary safety tests on the new equipment, there will be no train services from Stalybridge station for nine days over the last week of October and first week of November.