Engineering work to renew track and signalling at Watford Junction has been cancelled, because the 350,000-tonne landslide at Harbury Tunnel meant no direct passenger route from the West Midlands to London would have been available on two weekends in February.
The Watford work on the West Coast Main Line over the weekends of February 14/15 and 21/22 would have caused the redirection of passengers onto services using the Chiltern route between Birmingham, Banbury and London Marylebone.
However, that route has now been blocked by the landslide. Network Rail has therefore decided that the Watford closure was no longer possible, in order for passengers to still be able to make journeys between the West Midlands and London.
Train operators, including Virgin Trains and London Midland, have supported the decision. VT Executive Director for Operations and Projects Phil Bearpark said NR’s decision was “in the best interests of passengers who would have been left with no alternative services to and from London when work on the WCML at Watford took place”.
LM Head of West Coast Services Terry Oliver said: “The Chiltern Line is going to be blocked for much longer than everyone originally expected. Having two main lines from London to the Midlands blocked could have caused severe disruption across the whole of the rail network, as passengers and freight trains would have very few routes available.”
Both LM and VT said full details of train services on the affected weekends would be available in due course on their websites.
- For more on this story, see RAIL 768, published on February 18.