£17m Cheshire bridge improvements work reaches halfway stage.(Network Rail)

Work to protect some of Cheshire’s most iconic railway bridges during an 11-day line closure in the north-west has passed the halfway stage.

Holmes Chapel viaduct

Holmes Chapel viaduct is one of two Grade II-listed landmarks being refurbished for the work  

Holmes Chapel viaductHolmes Chapel viaduct

Carrying out all the work at the same time is saving taxpayers £500,000  and Heavy machinery breaks up the stone to replace the foundations and drainage

(Network Rail Pictures)

The line from Manchester to Crewe and Sandbach to Northwich closed on Saturday 13 February in order to carry out vital refurbishments of a number of structures, including the Grade II-listed viaduct at Holmes Chapel.

With Network Rail’s Orange Army working around the clock on the makeover, progress has been good with everything on course to complete for the planned hand back of the line on February 24.

“The structure at Holmes Chapel doesn’t have any functioning drainage. We’re installing a brand new drainage suite, which will protect the asset for another 125 years.

We’ve made some fantastic progress during the first five days of the blockade. We’ve completed the refurbishment of one of the lines and have already started work on the second line, so we’re well over halfway through.

In addition to upgrading Holmes Chapel, we’ve taken the opportunity to do lots of work on the Crewe to Manchester Piccadilly line. We’ve strengthened the Hungerford Road bridge in Crewe, Shipbrook Road bridge in Rudheath and the Whatcroft underbridge and Trent and Mersey Canal bridge in Davenham.

This creates efficiency in terms of cost, time and disruption to the travelling public.”

Joelle Caldarelli, scheme project manager

Once work on the drainage is complete, contractors will begin work on the removal of water stains on the walls, brickwork repairs and waterproofing.

The project team took the opportunity to show some local politicians how work is getting on.

“We’ve been invited to come and have a look at the work being done, which is very interesting. I didn’t realise there was so much stone on top of the viaduct. It’s going to look good when it’s finished.

The project team have worked well with neighbours. They’ve sent lads round with letters, explained when they’re working and when they’re not. There’s not really been any noise, and at least we know what [the work] is.”

Councillor Terry Price, a parish councillor who lives near Holmes Chapel viaduct

During the 11-day closure services to Manchester from London and South Wales (and vice versa) will temporarily bypass Crewe and be diverted via Macclesfield and Stockport. Local rail services will also be affected between Wilmslow, Stockport and Crewe. Replacement bus services will be provided and alternative routes will be signposted for all passengers who are affected. For full details, see our dedicated web pageabout the work.

Passengers are advised to check before they travel with their train operator or on the National Rail Enquiries website.