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WCML closures amended to reduce disruption

The withdrawal of two proposed closures of the West Coast Main Line have been met with relief by train operators and passenger representatives.

Network Rail had planned a 16-day closure in August, with a following 9-day closure in February 2015 at Watford. The closures would allow work to improve reliability and punctuality on the line.

But following a review of the project, this work will now take place over three weekends in August and two weekends in February. This will significantly reduce disruption to passengers.

Dyan Crowther, Network Rail’s route managing director, said: “Working with our industry partners we have been able to develop a revised schedule of work at Watford that will cause less disruption for passengers.

“There is never a good time to close the railway and removing these two significant closures means we will have to carry out the work over eight separate weekends and Bank Holidays which will still impact on journeys. However, the feedback from passengers suggested this was a preferred situation.

“We will now liaise with the train companies to plan for the work and to provide passengers with information in advance and during the work to minimise disruption as possible.”

Phil Bearpark, operations and customer service director for Virgin Trains, said: “We welcome the news that Network Rail has created a plan that will not involve a 16-day closure in August or a nine-day closure in February, which would have had a significant impact on all our customers.”

Patrick Verwer, London Midland’s managing director, agreed: “It’s great news that our colleagues at Network Rail have been able to revise the work schedule for the Watford resignalling project. Our passengers who commute into London on a daily basis were extremely concerned about the impact of the initial blockade dates, and I am confident they will welcome this decision.”

Guy Dangerfield from independent watchdog Passenger Focus said: “Passengers will be enormously relieved that the West Coast route will not now be closed at Watford for days on end in August 2014 and February 2015.”

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