Travel times between Chester and Manchester via Altrincham will be much improved following an £800,000 investment by Network Rail.
The previous poor condition of the track through the ‘Bleeding Wolf’ area of Hale meant trains could only travel at 20mph.
Now, after the ballast and track have been replaced, the limit has been increased to 60mph, three times what it was.
The area suffered from poor drainage which had resulted in contamination of the ballast and a long-standing speed restriction. To correct this, a total of around 2,500 tonnes of ballast, 700 new sleepers and 500 metres of new drainage were laid over a one-kilometre section of track on three consecutive Sundays in June and July and the weekend of 10-12 August.
Network Rail planning manager Adrian Brookes said: “Our £800,000 Great North Rail Project investment means that Northern’s trains can travel at top speeds of 60mph instead of 20mph previously. This will help Cheshire and Greater Manchester passengers get to their places of work or leisure more comfortably, faster and more reliably.”
The area of Hale through which the railway passes is known as Bleeding Wolf because, allegedly, the Earl of Chester was attacked in the 13th century by an injured wolf and saved by a local forester named Adam de Lauton. In reward, King John granted de Laughton as much land “as he could walk in a day”, including the land on which the railway now stands.