Network Rail

Important freight route secured by £4.5m Cheshire railway bridge upgrades

Freight services through Cheshire are now benefiting from a more reliable railway after work to replace two railway bridges.

The Middlewich branch line reopened today (Thursday 19 November) following a £4.5m Great North Rail Project investment.

The railway was closed for five days so the bridges over the Trent and Mersey canal and Whatcroft Hall lane in Northwich could be rebuilt to modern standards.

An 800 tonne crane was used to lift the new structures into place.

This will secure the future of this important rail freight route which is used to supply vital construction materials across the country.

The new bridges are safer, more reliable and will need less maintenance in future.

Oluwole Osunneye, scheme project manager for Network Rail, said: “Work to replace the Trent & Mersey Canal railway bridge is part of a £4.5m investment, which will mean that the structure remains safe and reliable for the economically important freight services that use it for many years to come.

“During a closure of the line, we’ve now installed the new bridge deck and I’d like to thank freight operators, motorists and local people for their patience.”

Michael Leadbetter, planning & resourcing director for Freightliner, said: “The Middlewich branch line is a key route for freight traffic moving between the Peak District, the markets in the North West and the Midlands. Allowing heavy freight trains to access this route is crucial to the success of moving aggregates on these corridors, which will only become more important with increasing volumes for HS2 and other customers. Freightliner welcomes Network Rail’s ongoing investment in this route to allow these critical flows to take place.”

Quentin Hedderly, network capacity manager at DB Cargo UK said: “We are pleased that the work to reconstruct the railway bridge in Northwich has been successfully completed in line with the expected timescales. The replacement of this asset enables Network Rail to restore heavy axle-weight capability to the route which will allow more freight to be transported by rail across this line in the coming months.”

Ian Kapur, head of strategic access planning for GB Railfreight Ltd, said: “GB Railfreight is very pleased that Network Rail has now carried out its strengthening works on the Trent & Mersey Canal railway bridge on the Middlewich route. This will ensure that the new-to-rail HS2 aggregate flows from the Peak District quarries serving the various receiving terminals with building materials can operate with full loads and keep even more freight movements off the road.”

To complete the engineering work safely, the Middlewich branch railway line was closed from midnight on Friday 13 November until the early hours of Thursday 19 November.

Whatcroft Hall Lane has now reopened to traffic after the new bridge decks were installed.

Photo credit: Network Rail


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