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05.03.15

Harbury landslip line to reopen next week

The railway between Leamington Spa and Banbury is to re-open next week on Friday 13 March after January’s major landslip at Harbury, Network Rail has confirmed. 

It means the line will be back up and running three weeks earlier than originally planned – although it was Network Rail itself that set the initial timeframe for the repair work. 

The key route between Birmingham and London Marylebone, the Thames Valley, south coast and the port of Southampton is used by 130 passenger and freight trains a day. It has been closed since 31 January following a 350,000 tonne landslip near Harbury, a few miles south of Leamington Spa. 

Since then, Network Rail has worked 24 hours a day to repair the landslip and the railway will reopen less than six weeks after the landslip occurred. 

Freight trains may begin to use the line between Leamington Spa and Banbury in the week commencing Monday 9 March – but only overnight. This will allow for the maximum amount of work to take place during daylight hours to allow for a full reopening on Friday 13 March. 

Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “Thousands of passengers, and thousands of tonnes of freight, rely on this vital route every day. We have been working around the clock and are able to reopen the railway three weeks ahead of the original estimate. 

“Harbury cutting has suffered from landslips for more than 150 years. We have secured the cutting and made it safe and will carry out long term repairs which will significantly reduce the chances of similar incidents in the future.” 

harbury landslip in the rain

Network Rail will remain on site for several months after the railway reopens as work continues on the cutting and additional investigations of the surrounding area. The section of railway which has not been used for the duration of the closure will be fully tested before reopening. 

Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) chief executive Richard Price said he welcomes the reopening of the rail line between Leamington Spa and Banbury ahead of schedule. 

“Network Rail has worked round the clock to reinstate this key route and worked closely with train companies to keep passengers well-informed while providing reliable alternatives to help them to complete their journeys,” he said. “The company has committed extra funds to improve the resilience of the rail network for better reliability of services in the future and we will continue to monitor and report on its progress against these plans.” 

Rob Brighouse, managing director of Chiltern Railways, added that every working day over 10,000 journeys are made with Chiltern Railways between the West Midlands and London, “so we applaud the tireless work undertaken by our partner, Network Rail, that has resulted in an early reopening date”. 

And a spokesperson for Freightliner added that it looks forward to being able to recommence services after the landslip caused substantial disruption to freight services to the Midlands, north east and north west. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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