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Virgin in row with Railtrack over WCML shut down

A ROW has broken out between Virgin Trains and Railtrack over plans to shut part of the West Coast Main Line for 18 successive weekends this autumn.

Virgin agreed to the closures last October, but last week criticised them publicly.

Insiders believe the train operator is trying to maximise compensation for lost train paths and distance itself from blame.

Railtrack plans to close the line between Hemel Hempstead and Milton Keynes for 18 successive weekends from August so that it can carry out upgrade works.

Up to 100 buses an hour will ferry passengers between the two towns.

By taking weekend possessions, contractors will have 54 hours to work, instead of the usual eight hour overnight slots.

Railtrack said an agreement was reached between all passenger and freight train operators last autumn.

Compensation for the delays is still being negotiated and one insider said Virgin was trying to maximise the amount.

But Virgin said this week that it was unaware of the severity and extent of the works last autumn saying 'business plans would be devastated'.

The spokesman said it is hoped that two of the four lines on the section could remain open during the closures.

Railtrack dismissed the option saying the layout the prevented partial opening for safety reasons.

Steve Turner

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