DAMAGE CAUSED by diverted West Coast Main Line trains has forced Network Rail to bring forward by two months a blockade of the Settle to Carlisle railway line, the track operator confirmed this week.
The trains have caused track to sink into the ballast causing dips at 12 separate locations.
Network Rail has brought forward its blockade to run from 6 March to 1 April.
Leaving work until the scheduled May possession would have meant enforcing a 'considerable speed restriction' in the meantime, said the spokesman.
'We had a number of dips in the track caused by ballast moving and settling, ' said the spokesman. 'This was due to the heavy traffi c going over the lines.'
The Settle-Carlisle route is a mixed use line which accommodates up to 22 freight trains a day transporting coal from Scotland to power stations in the Aire and Trent Valleys.
The line has also been used almost every weekend for a large part of 2005 by trains diverted off the WCML as part of the £8bn London-Glasgow route modernisation.
Network Rail was aware of the additional strain placed on the line and in January announced £58M of track improvements for the SettleCarlisle route, including £11M to be spent this year.
The emergency closure has cost Network Rail £4M in additional compensation payments to train operator Northern and rail freight operators.