£100 million electric trains service ready for 2019
Electric trains are set to run between Walsall and Rugeley next year as part of a £100 million upgrade.
Testing for the railway electrification scheme was completed last week and the new faster, quieter trains will run from May.
This paves the way for the new services for West Midlands Railway customers on the Chase Line.
The scheme involved erecting overhead wires on 51km of track and completely reconstructing six bridges.
The Chase Line is between Rugeley, Hednesford, Cannock and Walsall and the scheme aims to provide faster, quieter trains.
Work began in November 2013, and the project will reduce journey times to and from Birmingham by 15 minutes and address overcrowding on board by introducing more trains.
It will also free up diesel-run rolling stock and introduce higher capacity electric trains that will carry more passengers.
The more efficient service is expected to create 1,600 new jobs and generate an estimated £110m through regional economic benefits.
Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said: “Staffordshire is a well-connected county and we continually strive to improve our transport links by rail and road.
"We are looking forward to seeing more economic growth with major projects development in 2019 and our rail infrastructure is an important part of that. The electrification of the Chase Line is a huge boost for communities and businesses along the route.
"We expect the line to be increasingly busy when the MacArthurGlen designer retail outlet in Cannock is completed which will be a major visitor attraction for the district and the county.”
The project involves the construction of foundations, structures and a contact system.
It will also extend station platforms to accommodate the new longer trains, which will be introduced now that the electrification is complete.
It also involves a speed increase from the existing 45mph to 75mph.
Martin Tiller, Network Rail project sponsor, said: “This railway upgrade will bring lasting benefits for customers.”