THE RAILWAY line between Leamington and Banbury has re-opened – three weeks ahead of schedule.
It was closed after a landslide brought 350,000 tonnes of earth down onto the track near Harbury following heavy rain on January 31
Network Rail has been working round the clock to clear the line and the 0515 Chiltern Railways’ Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone was the first passenger train back on the track on Friday (March 13).
Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said “The reopening of the railway, three weeks ahead of schedule, is welcome news for passengers and freight operators. It is also a testament to the hard work of hundreds of people who have worked 24 hours a day to make it possible.
“Everything was done to reopen this essential line – which is relied upon by thousands of passengers every day and used to transport thousands of tonnes of freight – as safely and quickly as possible.
“I thank passengers and the residents of Harbury for their patience while we carried out this vital work. I can assure them that the ongoing repairs being made are long term solutions which will significantly reduce the chances of similar incidents in the future.”
Rob Brighouse, managing director at Chiltern Railways, also welcomed the re-opening of the line which has seen rail passengers forced to take buses between Leamington and Banbury.
He said: “The Chiltern Mainline is a vital link for both commuters and business travellers and we are delighted to restore direct services between London and the West Midlands.
“Thanks must be given to our partners at Network Rail, who have worked tirelessly, day and night to make the area safe and to our passengers for their patience. During the closure we introduced a reduced fare structure and we can announce an extension of this for both day and season tickets until the end of April.”
Harbury cutting has suffered from landslides since it was built more than 150 years ago.
Network Rail is now looking to remove 300,000 tonnes of earth to make the cutting more stable and less prone too future landslides. The long term repairs to the cutting are expected to take several months.
Visit http://youtu.be/nyjuPTf66nE to see a time-lapse video of work to clear the landlslide.