Railway engineers have secured the West Coast Main Line between Milton Keynes and Birmingham from being damaged by thousands of tonnes of moving earth.
Network Rail specialists have spent 17 days completely rebuilding a railway embankment at Hillmorton Junction, just south of Rugby, after land started to slip underneath the tracks on Wednesday 27 January.
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The work saw an embankment 10 metres high and 40 metres wide completely rebuilt, as well as 10,000 tonnes of new stone laid to improve drainage. New foundations and special pins have been installed to prevent any future movement Storm Christoph’s extremely heavy rain is thought to have caused the landslip.
During the complete embankment reconstruction, passenger and freight services were diverted via Northampton so the rapid repairs could take place.
The line is to reopen to services on February 13 – two days ahead of schedule.
Ellen Wintle, infrastructure director for Network Rail’s West Coast South route, said: “I’m really proud of my team for working all hours to get this vital section of the West Coast main line secure and back up and running again for our passenger and freight customers.
“Because this landslip was spotted early we were able to control the damage and carry out repairs quickly, reducing the length of time passengers and freight would be disrupted. I thank people whose essential journeys were slightly longer during the work for their patience while we worked tirelessly to make the railway safe and secure again.”
Gus Dunster, executive director of operations & safety for Avanti West Coast, said: “We would like to thank Network Rail’s team of engineers for working around the clock, in challenging weather conditions, to get the line reopened so quickly.
“We have worked hard with all our industry partners to keep delays and disruption to a minimum during these works, and we would like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding during this time.”
Lawrence Bowman, customer experience director for London Northwestern Railway, said: “I would like to thank our customers making essential journeys for their patience and understanding while Network Rail carried out these important repairs.
“I am pleased we’re now able to reinstate our services at stations along the Trent Valley from this weekend. The response to this incident has been a great example of the rail industry working together in the best interests of passengers.”
Over the coming months the new embankment will be replanted so it better blends in to the landscape.
Member of Parliament for Rugby Mark Pawsey visited the site on February 11 to see the engineering job for himself.
He said: “As someone who regularly uses the railway to travel between Rugby and London, I was keen to visit the site of the landslip and see for myself the progress being made to resolve this issue. It’s very impressive to see how swiftly Network Rail’s team have been able to restore the embankment, especially in the very challenging weather conditions of recent days.
“I also wanted to thank Network Rail’s key workers, who have kept the trains running throughout the lockdown. As part of the ongoing work to the embankment, Network Rail told me that they will ensure that the biodiversity on the site will be maintained and improved through a new planting scheme which I know will be appreciated by local residents.”
Passengers making essential journeys are being advised to check www.nationalrail.co.uk or with train operators Avanti West Coast and London Northwestern Railway.
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