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Chase Line electrification preparations begin

Work has now begun on the £36m Chase Line electrification project between Walsall and Rugeley Trent Valley.

The demolition of Broad Lane bridge at Bloxwich North station will be the first of three that need to be rebuilt to accommodate electric equipment. After the bridge works, electrification will get underway in 2015.

Liam Sumpter, Network Rail area director said: “Electrification helps us 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, which is good news for passengers.

“By enabling a better train service along this important route, this investment in the rail infrastructure will help grow the local economy and provide a better service for passengers.”

Mark Goodall, London Midland’s head of Cross City Service added: “The electrification of the neighbouring line between Lichfield and Birmingham has been a huge success and we look forward to introducing similar benefits to passengers on the Rugeley to Birmingham route.”

Mark Lavender, head of strategic regeneration at Walsall Council, set out a long list of benefits of the scheme after it was included in the CP5 HLOS. He said: “The scheme will enable a half-hourly service to operate on the Chase Line, improving connectivity for commuters and businesses on a cost effective basis.

“It will improve connections for passengers changing at Rugeley Trent Valley for services to Stafford, Lichfield and London. It will avoid the current need to reduce the peak service frequency on the Chase Line to free-up scarce diesel rolling stock resources. It will provide faster journey times and improved connectivity with higher capacity electric trains.

“It will provide £21.3m user and non-user benefits and in excess of £25m revenue/operating cost benefits (2002 Present Value) according to Network Rail.

 “It will allow the conversion of the existing local diesel service on the Birmingham-Walsall-Rugeley line to electric operation, freeing up further diesel trains to strengthen overcrowded services on other routes in West Midlands. It will create a new electrified route between the West Midlands and the North West, relieving capacity on the current Birmingham New St-Wolverhampton-Stafford route and creating an effective diversionary route for passenger and freight services, thereby facilitating a more robust seven-day railway operation.

“Electrification work will also make it easier to create a larger loading gauge, allowing the increasingly common 9’6 containers to be transported, which would have benefits for the proposed freight terminal at Pentalver.

“It will make it easier to provide direct electric services to Birmingham International and Coventry.

“In the longer term, electrification could allow services such as the Birmingham-Liverpool train to run via Walsall, significantly improving Walsall’s connectivity to Stafford and the North West, and giving new commercial opportunities to serve a town that is larger than the city of Wolverhampton.

“Post-HS2, such as service could be combined with the Birmingham-London semifast trains to provide a through service to London.

“The electrification schemes will follow re-signalling and line speed improvements due to be completed in 2013/14. The line speed will rise from 45mph to 75mph allowing journey time improvements.”

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Brian   22/11/2013 at 13:29

In an ideal World this would be the beginning of a rolling program of in-fill electrification projects. E.g. Wolverhampton to Crewe via Shrewsbury. In addition to simplifying the reinstatement of the direct Shrewsbury London service this would form a useful diversionary route should the WCML be disrupted between Stafford and Crewe or the Stour Valley between Wolverhampton and Stafford.

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