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Chase Line to shut for fortnight hitting commuters between Rugeley and Walsall

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The Chase Line will be closed for more than two weeks this summer causing major frustration for commuters.

Network Rail has stated it will require 'full possession' of the line between Rugeley and Walsall between August 13 and 28.

This will be preceded by further disruption when work is carried out on consecutive weekends through June and July.

It is to allow the latest works for the £100m electrification scheme which Network Rail say are necessary in order to get the first electric trains running by May 2018. London Midland will put on replacement bus services throughout the works.

David Winnick, MP for Walsall North, who has highlighted the ongoing overcrowding problems on the line, said: "If this is absolutely essential, and I'm not an engineer, then one has to accept the explanation however, it should be no more than two weeks.

"The last time work was undertaken it overran. In the main passengers will recognise it has to be done, but when the company says two weeks we expect them to keep to it."

Cannock Chase MP Amanda Milling MP added: "The closures are a double edged sword for passengers.

"The line is essential for many people to get to and from work and any closure will cause considerable frustration to commuters, already blighted by overcrowding.

"I met with London Midland and Network Rail last week to highlight the need for any disruption to be mitigated and minimised.

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"They outlined their plans for a replacement bus service during the disruption although I did raise the need to make sure the bus stops don't cause traffic chaos, particularly in and around Cannock station.

"If we are to see the overcrowding tackled we need the line electrified and the works completed.

"The electrification will deliver a half hourly service and hundreds more seats every hour.

"Some of the works required for the project are very significant and Network Rail have said that this option offers the least disruption and allows the works to be completed on schedule.

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"It is essential the project does not encounter any delays and we need the electric trains running on the line as soon as possible.

"I just hope that the short term pain of replacement bus services, will result in the long term gain we all want to see on the Chase Line, which is more trains, quicker services and a lot more seats."

The first lot of works will be carried out on Saturday and Sunday, June 10 and 11. Further work will take place on every Sunday after that for seven weeks.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "We are working closely with London Midland and Transport for the West Midlands to minimise disruption."

London Midland's head of route, Rob Hornsey added: "The benefits of the upgrade work will be enormous. The Chase Line has been a great success.

"It is the fastest growing line in the West Midlands and the extra capacity electrification of the route will bring will be welcomed by everyone."

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