IMPROVEMENTS that will increase capacity and reliability for Crewe rail passengers began this week.

Work has started on the second phase of updates to the West Coast Main Line, which will see more trains travelling at faster speeds from the town to London and other destinations.

The £250 million scheme centred on signalling improvements in Stafford will see two more trains per hour in each direction between the capital and Crewe, and extra fast train services in each direction every hour from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham.

It’s hoped one extra freight train in each direction will also reduce the amount of lorry journeys necessary.

Network Rail said it would do ‘all it can to minimise disruption’ during the works, due to take place on weekends and evenings.

Ian Jones, Network Rail programme manager, said: “The re-signalling of Stafford is part of a wider package of investment in the West Coast main line between Stafford and Crewe which, when complete, will help to boost reliability and capacity and remove one of the last remaining bottlenecks on the route.

“Alongside linespeed improvements currently being delivered between Crewe and Stafford, these upgrades will mean a more reliable, faster and frequent service for the millions of passengers who travel on one of Europe’s busiest rail routes every month.”

The works will see the introduction of a new timetable from 2015.

A third phase of improvements to the WCML is due to include a new flyover at Norton Bridge.