Railway services between Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester are expected to continue to face disruption throughout the weekend after a signalling system suffered a ‘major failure’.
Network Rail are working to repair signalling equipment that failed on Thursday morning – leading to widespread delays on trains from North Staffordshire and South Cheshire to Manchester Piccadilly.
Reduced timetables are in place and rail replacement buses are in place on some sections – rail passengers should check with their train operator.
A National Rail spokesman said: “A fault with the signalling at Cheadle Hulme is causing disruption to journeys between Manchester Piccadilly and Crewe / Stoke-on-Trent. Trains may be cancelled, delayed by up to 60 minutes or revised.
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“There is no firm estimate yet of how long disruption will last but it is likely to continue until the start of service on Monday September 21.”
Affected services include Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Northern and Transport for Wales.
Network Rail say they checked miles of cable and are now looking at the possibility of it being an ‘unprecedented computer software issue.’
In a statement, they said: “Specialist teams from Network Rail and the signalling system manufacturer are working around the clock in Crewe and at the Manchester South Control Centre to find the fault and fix it.
“Engineers have repaired and checked miles of signalling cable to try to restore the signalling.
“Usually this resolves a signalling outage but the technical team and manufacturer is now focusing its investigations on an unprecedented computer software issue.
“The complexity of the fault means that trains will continue to be disrupted this weekend.”
Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: ““I appreciate this signalling failure in Crewe is a huge inconvenience to passengers and I’d just like to really apologise. I’ve had engineers working all night alongside the signalling manufacturer to find out what’s gone wrong.
“I’m hugely sorry this is going to have to continue into the weekend. The emergency timetable will remain in place and I’d urge all passengers planning to travel to check www.nationalrail.co.uk as we continue to find the cause and fix it.”
An Avanti West Coast spokesman said: “We are working hard with Network Rail and industry partners to minimise disruption to journeys on our Manchester route. Customers who have booked to travel to or from Manchester, Stockport and Wilmslow this weekend can travel on any of our Manchester services until Monday September 21.
“We advise checking our website for the most up to date information before going to the station.”