Work to replace the bridge on Stocks Lane, as part of the Great North Rail Project, began in January but the main construction will start from this Saturday.

The bridge, which provides a key route over the railway, was built in the early 1870s and is need of replacement after being used for nearly 150 years. The essential work is required to make it safer and in need of less maintenance in future.

The work is being completed in two phases by Network Rail and Warrington Borough Council, which are working together to minimise disruption.

The first phase will see Network Rail demolish the bridge and rebuild it by June 2019. To complete the work the railway between Manchester and Liverpool, via Warrington, will be closed for two consecutive weekends on 9-11 and 16-18 March.

The weekend closures will affect trains between Norwich, Nottingham and Liverpool Lime Street, and Manchester Airport, Manchester Oxford Road and Liverpool Lime Street. Some train services will be diverted via Newton-le-Willows. Replacement buses will operate between Widnes, Warrington Central and Liverpool Lime Street.

The second phase will be carried out by Warrington Borough Council and will start in April until September 2019. It will involve installing safety barriers, highway fencing and laying the road and footpaths.

Simon Smith, Network Rail sponsor, said: “Replacing Stocks Lane bridge is essential to the long-term operation of the railway. The scheme we have agreed with Warrington Borough Council is the most effective way to carry out the work and cause the least disruption to local people.

“We appreciate the inconvenience this work will cause and can assure people we will complete it as quickly and safely as possible.”

Councillor Hans Mundry, Warrington Borough Council’s executive board member for highways, transportation and public realm, said: “These works are an important part of the ongoing programme to ensure the safety of the rail network.

“We will be working in close partnership with Network Rail to minimise disruption as much as possible, and we thank local residents in advance for their patience while this work is carried out.”

Adam Piddington, customer experience director for East Midlands Trains, said: “We are working alongside Network Rail to help minimise disruption as much as we can, there will be rail replacement buses from Warrington and Widnes in each direction to connect with trains to and from the East Midlands. We are advising customers to check before they travel over the affected weekends”.

A clearly marked diversionary route will be in place for motorists. A temporary footpath diversion will be in place throughout the duration of works for pedestrians and cyclists.

Passengers are being urged to plan their journey and check before they travel over both weekends with their train operating company or www.nationalrail.co.uk.