Network Rail has been pressing ahead with ‘behind the scenes’ work to electrify the Manchester to Liverpool railway line since the announcement by the Department for Transport last year.
A detailed study of every structure along the route has been undertaken to see what needs to be done to accommodate the 25,000 volt overhead cables that will provide electricity to drive the trains.
Jo Kaye, Network Rail’s route director, explained: “We have looked at all the tunnels and road and pedestrian bridges along the entire route, many of which are up to 150 years old. Some will need work to be carried out on them before the overhead power lines can be put in place.
“Having done all the background work we are now at the stage where we are ready to start on the ground.”
Two road bridges and one pedestrian bridge over the railway between Eccles and Patricroft stations are to be demolished and rebuilt. They are Albert Street, Old Wellington Road and Chadwick’s footbridge.
Albert Street will close from 15 March for up to 20 weeks and a signed diversionary route will be in place. During the closures, pedestrian access over the railway will be maintained for the majority of the time.
At the same time, Old Wellington Road will be restricted to single lane traffic, again for up to 20 weeks.
However, there will be three consecutive weekends in June when both bridges will have to be closed to vehicles and pedestrians.
Chadwick’s footbridge will be completely closed from mid-May until the end of June and an alternative pedestrian route will be provided.
In total, there are 90 structures on the route, 46 of which will not need any work. This is either because there is already sufficient headroom or because the cables can be installed in such a way as to not need any work. However 44 will need some attention. In some instances, this will mean the bridge can simply be raised up, some will have to be rebuilt and in other locations the track can be lowered, leaving the bridge unaffected. Some bridges will only require work to their parapets.
There is also one short tunnel on the line between Patricroft and Newton-le-Willows through which the track will be lowered.
A well as looking at the various structures, Network Rail has also been looking at the effect the work will have on the signalling along the line, particularly where bridges are rebuilt or the track is lowered. This is so that signals are not obscured from the train driver’s view.