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Harbury landslide forces postponement of WCML work

Network Rail is postponing improvement work on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) around Watford because of last weekend’s landslide between Banbury and Leamington Spa .

The WCML work had been scheduled for the weekends of 14/15 and 21/22 February, with services redirected onto the Chiltern line.

However, the route is now closed due the 350,000t landslide which happened on Saturday (31 January) at the Harbury Tunnel cutting, and will remain out of action for several weeks.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “Passengers must come first, and with the alternative route from Birmingham to London now blocked we have made the right decision to ensure journeys can still be made.”

Phil Bearpark, executive director for operations and projects at Virgin Trains, said “Network Rail’s decision is in the best interests of passengers who would have been left with no alternative services to and from London when work on the West Coast Main Line at Watford took place.

“We are working very hard with Network Rail and other train operators to put in place a timetable that makes best use of the space now available. This will mean that passengers are able to travel to and from London on direct services rather than taking diversionary services, which is really good news. But we are reacting to fast-moving events and I would ask that customers bear with us over the next few days as we clarify details of which trains will be available.”

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