Midland passengers will face major rail disruption over the Easter break as engineers carry out a £250 million upgrade of tracks across the region.
The improvements will include the opening of a new flyover at Norton Bridge which will remove one of the last bottlenecks on the West Coast Main Line between the West Midlands and Manchester.
Elsewhere, a major junction – which allows trains to change tracks and routes – is being replaced between Birmingham and Wolverhampton to make it more reliable in the future.
The work means there will be a significantly reduced service between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton over the Easter weekend at the end of March and the following Tuesday and Wednesday.
Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “We are advising passengers to check before they travel over the Easter bank holiday and in some locations after that, as we make a big investment to provide passengers with a better railway.
“I appreciate there will be some disruption as a result of this work and I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while we carry out this investment to provide a better railway.”
The upgrade at Norton Bridge, near Stafford, is the culmination of more than four years’ work to allow trains travelling to and from Birmingham and Manchester, via Stoke-on-Trent, to travel over the existing railway on a newly-built bridge, rather than having to slow down and criss-cross the existing tracks.
This will help to reduce congestion on the line – as trains currently have to slow down to change direction – and help provide additional capacity as it allows more trains to travel through the area which is on one of the busiest rail routes in Europe..
CrossCountry managing director, Andy Cooper, said: “We have worked closely with our industry colleagues to keep disruption from these works to a minimum, but there will be some changes to services between Birmingham and Manchester.
“However, the long term benefits to our customers from this will be faster journeys between these cities and more capacity to meet growing demand for rail travel.”
Passengers are advised to check before they travel over the holiday weekend with their train operator or at www.nationalrail.co.uk .