Chase Line Electrification: Walsall to Rugeley
Improvement works are taking place to enable electric trains to run between Walsall and Rugeley. Electric trains are quieter, faster and will provide more frequent services and extra seats on this route.
Why electrify the line from Walsall to Rugeley?
An increasing number of passengers use the Chase line services each year, with major improvement works required to accommodate this growth. Network Rail is investing over £100m into electrifying and upgrading the line between Walsall and Rugeley, so that a faster and more frequent service can run in the future.
Overhead wires are currently only installed as far as Walsall and as a result West Midlands Railway currently runs diesel trains from Birmingham to Rugeley. Once the electrification work on the Chase line is complete, electric trains will be able to run along the whole of the line, bringing a number of benefits.
Electric trains are quieter, faster and more environmentally friendly. They can also carry more passengers than the diesel trains that are currently used. The combination of these benefits will allow a more frequent service to run on this line in future, reducing journey times between Staffordshire and the West Midlands.
What is electrification?
Level crossing closures
Bloxwich level crossing and Landywood and Stoneyfields footpath crossings will be closed for six months during the work. This will reduce the risk to drivers and pedestrians from machinery and engineering trains working around the crossings.
Bloxwich Level Crossing will be closed from 23:00 on 12 August to 06:00 on 3 September. It will then reopen temporarily until permanent closure is put in place in late 2017 / early 2018. We are working with Walsall Council to improve the local roads to manage the effect on traffic flows. A footbridge with ramps will be built so pedestrians can still cross the railway. Wile the footbridge is being built an accessible minibus shuttle will run to allow pedestrians to get from one side of the crossing to the other without a long walk.
Landywood and Stoneyfields (Cannock) footpath crossings have been closed temporarily and we are seeking permanent closure. Diversionary routes are in place and signposted locally. We are in discussion with the local authorities about any improvements that could be made to these diversionary routes.
These crossing closures are necessary to allow the work to take place safely. Once the work is complete the permanent closures will be put in place for public safety when faster, quieter and more frequent trains are running.
Disruption to services
We are working at night as much as possible to minimise disruption to passengers. However, it will be necessary to close the line at the following times to do big pieces of work:
Our work clearing vegetation by the railway helps to keep trains running safely and on time.
Managing the trees, shrubs and plants alongside our railway to ensure the safety of passengers and railway workers is essential. We plan this work carefully and with consideration.
In order to put electric wires along the route, six bridges had to be raised including complex work to the bridge which forms part of Walsall high street. All bridge work has been completed.