Stafford Area Improvements Programme (SAIP) (Interim)

CEEQUAL Excellent (97.4%) – Interim Client & Design Award
Version 4, Jun 2013 | Norton Bridge, UK (England)

Client: Network Rail
Design: Atkins
Construction: Staffordshire Alliance

Assessor: Lucie Anderton (Network Rail) and Graham Parry (ACCON UK)
Verifier: Rachel Waggett (Warrington Borough Council)

Project Summary

The Norton Bridge phase of the Stafford Area Improvements Programme (SAIP) aims to remove a major bottleneck on the West Coast Main Line through a combination of linespeed improvements between Crewe and Norton Bridge, the resignalling of Stafford and the proposed introduction of a flyover at Norton Bridge, which includes 10 kilometres of new 100 miles per hour railway, 12 new bridge structures, four river diversions, major environmental mitigation works and pipeline, road and footpath diversions.

Once complete, the SAIP will facilitate the introduction of new timetables between 2015 and 2017 to make journeys between London, the Midlands, North West and Scotland faster, more frequent and more reliable.

The scheme was taken to outline design by Atkins with Temple Group supporting the CEEQUAL Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment. Going into the construction phase, SAIP is being delivered by the Staffordshire Alliance – a collaborative contract between Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, Network Rail and VolkerRail – the UK rail industry’s first ‘Pure Alliance,’ helping transform the delivery of rail infrastructure projects.

Network Rail chose to register the project for a Whole Project Award as a way to demonstrate how sustainability is embedded into the project processes, CEEQUAL being ideal as it is an externally verified and rigorous assessment scheme. The SAIP team has sustainability at the heart of the way that it does business and has used the CEEQUAL Assessment process to drive sustainability in the design development. This will continue in the Staffordshire Alliance for the construction phase, with CEEQUAL scoring being one part of the way that the alliance is incentivised by the client to deliver the scheme in a sustainable way.


Challenges faced

The assessment scored 100% in 11 of the 12 categories, some of the highlights being:

Project Management

  • Sustainability Appraisals carried out in early optioneering stages. The following outline design evidenced that the whole project team actively considered the principles of sustainable development throughout planning and design.
  • A project Sustainability Strategy clearly documented responsibilities within the project team and Network Rail client remits to the designer clearly specified that sustainability should be central to the design development.
  • The Environmental Impact Assessment carried out evidenced the appropriate environmental surveys were carried out and impacts considered and mitigated.

Ecology and Biodiversity

  • Taking measures to protect the local barn owl population from collision with road and rail vehicles by diverting their flight paths through the inclusion of earthworks bunding.
  • Biodiversity enhancements designed into the river diversion, providing:
    o Net increase in channel length through meandering design;
    o Soft engineered without need for unnatural structures/materials to form the new channel – also low maintenance;
    o Retention of sections of the old channel blocked by dead wood;
    o Creation of new wetland areas and back waters, suitable for nationally scarce invertebrates found on-site;
    o SUDs attenuate run-off from new rail and road infrastructure – these have a built-in biodiversity benefit through planting and soft engineering.

Water Resources and the Water Environment

  • Design includes embankment with small bridges that will throttle flood waters, thus slowing flood flows into Stafford without causing significant damage/disturbance in the vicinity, helping save approx £6m that would have otherwise been spent on an alternative large viaduct.
  • Hydrology modelling was able to prove that level for level flood compensation would make very minor benefit, compared to the environmental impact land lowering would have (ecology, archaeology, pollution risk, agricultural disturbance, cost/carbon of excavation activity) The Environment Agency agreed no need for flood compensation saving £0.5 million.

Energy and Carbon

  • Carbon and waste minimisation workshops were held and plans from those events showed how the design process had actively sought ways to minimise waste and carbon.

Material Use and Waste Management

  • Planning to re-use 98% of excavated materials on site, saving 124 daily 20t lorry trips leaving site (with the returning empty lorries, that is 27 movements an hour) for 10 months through a rural network.


  • Introducing a temporary rail link to transport construction materials onto the site. This will reduce the impact to the local road network and community.

Effects on Neighbours

  • While establishing six replacement ponds near the site, and also creating a new community open space with an all access dipping/viewing platform and boardwalk.

Relations with the Local Community and other Stakeholders

  • The comprehensive consultation process demonstrated clear evidence of high levels of engagement with the local community and other stakeholders and demonstrated that the design was reviewed and altered in response to the consultation. Community input helped to influence the chosen rail, road and footpath alignments.

To what extent did the use of CEEQUAL influence your project?

The CEEQUAL process was used as a set of sustainability prompts for the project. At each stage, whether that was resourcing the team, setting a procurement strategy and tendering work, writing client remits and technical specifications, considering design options, conducting the EIA, team training or briefing, the CEEQUAL questions helped the programme to understand how sustainability could be embedded within the Norton Bridge project.

It helped us plan in carbon and waste minimisation workshops; it helped us to develop a better document, illustrating how we considered the environment in the design decisions made and generally raised environmental and sustainability awareness amongst the whole team.

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