OREANDA-NEWS. With Network Rail’s orange army working round the clock on Network Rail’s ?40bn Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers, progress has been good with everything on course to complete for the planned hand back of the line on February 24.

Joelle Caldarelli, Network Rail scheme project manager, said: “The structure at Holmes Chapel doesn’t have any functioning drainage so we are installing a brand new system which will protect the bridge for another 125 years.

“We’ve been working round the clock and have made some fantastic progress during the first five days of the blockade. We’ve completed the refurbishment of one of the lines and have already started work on the second line so we’re well over half way through.

“By doing this work in one go, it enables us to do other work at the same time. In addition to Holmes Chapel, we’ve taken the opportunity to do lots of work on the Crewe to Manchester Piccadilly line. We’ve strengthened the Hungerford Road bridge in Crewe, Shipbrook Road bridge in Rudheath and the Whatcroft underbridge and Trent and Mersey Canal bridge in Davenham. This creates efficiency in terms of cost, time and disruption to passengers.”

Chris Wright, contracts manager for J. Murphy & Sons Limited, the project contractor, said: “We’ve been working closely with Network Rail for some time to make sure this complicated project was carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible, by using innovative techniques. The team has put in a huge amount of effort on the scheme and the work has been going smoothly. We’re looking forward to seeing how the viaduct looks once the project is finished.”

Once work on the drainage is complete, contractors will begin work on the removal of water stains on the walls, brickwork repairs and waterproofing.

The project team took the opportunity to show some local politicians how work is getting on.

Cllr Terry Price, a parish councillor who lives near Holmes Chapel viaduct, said: “We’ve been invited to come and have a look at the work being done, which is very interesting. I didn’t realise there was so much stone on top of the viaduct.

“It’s very good. It’s going to look good when it’s finished.

“The project team have worked well with neighbours. They’ve sent lads round with letters, explained when they’re working and when they’re not working. There’s not really been any noise, and at least we know what it is.”

A spokesperson on behalf of Virgin Trains, Northern Rail, CrossCountry trains and Arriva Trains Wales 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.

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. Local rail services will also be affected between Wilmslow, Stockport and Crewe. Replacement bus services will be provided and alternative routes will be signposted for all passengers who are affected. (Full details are provided below.)

The latest travel information is also available at www.nationalrail.co.uk.  

About Network Rail

Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain’s railway – the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.6bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We’re investing ?38bn in the railway by 2019 to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.