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Case Studies


Network Rail - Norton Bridge Grade Separation

The Norton Bridge Grade Separation project forms part of the Stafford Area                                        


Infrastructure - rail




Network Rail



The Project

The Norton Bridge Grade Separation project forms part of the Stafford Area Improvements consisting of a number of railway infrastructure enhancements designed to improve capacity and reduce delays. The proposed infrastructure includes a new section of railway line to the west of the existing West Coast Main Line (WCML). This would allow slower trains to leave and join the WCML at Norton Bridge without crossing the path of high-speed trains, improving reliability of the network and the number of trains that can operate on the line.

The new line would pass through a deep cutting and split to the north of Searchlight Lane in two directions – one to join the WCML and the other to rejoin the Stone Line to the east. To the north of Searchlight Lane, the cutting becomes shallower and the track becomes raised on embankment over the Meece Brook floodplain. The scheme would require the construction of nine new bridges and widening of two existing bridges to allow the crossing of watercourses, footpaths, the existing railway and highways.

In addition to the new railway, there will also be additional works required to facilitate its construction. These include a major realignment of the B5026 Stone Road, a minor diversion of Searchlight Lane and the diversion of two major gas pipelines and a fuel pipeline.

The purpose of the scheme is to alleviate congestion at the existing Norton Bridge junction on the WCML. The benefits of the scheme would be improved journey times and increased track capacity for more freight and passenger services.


The Benefits

The key processes underpinning the project:


  • Increased capacity – once complete, the scheme would create additional capacity for the following train services:
  1. two extra fast trains per hour in each direction between London Euston and the North West.
  2. one extra train per hour in each direction between Manchester (Stone) and Birmingham.
  3. one extra freight path per hour in each direction through Stafford via Trent Valley.


  • Reduced carbon – carbon accounting was a key part of the scheme, firstly in supporting the option selection process for choosing the alignment of the railway. Understanding the level of embedded carbon in each option was one factor in the optioneering process. This resulted in a hybrid option being chosen.


  • Cost – in the design phase carbon accounting has been used to challenge the design and reduce the material required in the delivery. This will be developed during the detailed design phase with opportunities to further reduce the embodied carbon identified. Also, this focus on carbon goes hand in hand with reducing the project cost. By reducing the resources required to deliver the project through evaluation of the embedded carbon, the cost of the project can be lowered.


The Process

The key processes underpinning the project:


  • Carbon modelling was used as part of the Network Rail GRIP 3 Option Selection Process. Three options were identified and the embedded carbon in each of the options assessed. The carbon in each of the engineering disciplines required for the proposed

  • This assisted the option selection process to identify that option B was the most suitable from a carbon perspective. It also allowed for the development of a hybrid alternative, known as Option A-B. During the Network Rail GRIP 4 process, carbon modelling has been further developed and refined. The scope for reducing embedded carbon has been assessed and used to form a GRIP 4 assessment of opportunities for lowering both carbon and cost. The table below is an extract from this report of opportunities:

  • The opportunities outlined above will be taken forward during the design and build stage, with a focus on the top five materials which will be used for the project. It is hoped that a target can be set using the collated baseline data to reduce the embedded carbon in the project and identify the subsequent financial savings.







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