Banbury to Leamington railway line to be closed for several weeks following ‘massive’ landslide

An aerial view of the landslide near Harbury Tunnel NNL-150302-124135001
An aerial view of the landslide near Harbury Tunnel NNL-150302-124135001

A large landslip near Harbury Tunnel is to keep the Chiltern Railways line between Banbury and Leamington Spa closed for several weeks, Network Rail has reported this morning (Tuesday)

Network Rail specialist engineers are continuing to assess the landslide – which is still slowly moving – to determine the scale of the problem.

Network Rail diagram of the landslide area NNL-150302-124257001

Network Rail diagram of the landslide area NNL-150302-124257001

Remote sensing techniques are being used to monitor the landslide and remedial works will begin as soon as it is safe to do so.

Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail said: “This is a massive incident and I am making sure we have all the resources we need to tackle this problem.

“Our safety precautions ensured the railway was shut before there was any risk to passengers. Looking forward, our focus is on making sure the site is safe before our engineers move any of the affected earthworks.

“We know just how important this key route between Birmingham and London is, for both passengers and freight. This is a very deep cutting built back in Brunel’s days which we have been repairing for some time.

“I can assure passengers whose journeys are being disrupted that we will do our utmost to restore their services as soon as possible. However, it may take several weeks to stabilise it before we can start some services.”

“Network Rail will be working closely with the train operators on alternative services for the next few weeks, and will be able to give a clearer idea on timings within the next two weeks.

“We will provide further updates as our investigation and recovery work progresses.”

The landslip was reported at 2.30pm Saturday as Network Rail continued stabilisation work at the site after a much smaller landslide at the site in February last year

It’s estimated that over 350,000 tonnes of material has shifted.

The line carries long-distance services for Chiltern Railways and Cross-County Trains, as well as substantial freight services.

Bus replacement services are running between Leamington Spa and Banbury and a revised service is in effect between Banbury and Marylebone, Birmingham and Leamington Spa, and Stratford upon Avon and Leamington Spa.

Passengers using Chiltern Railway and Crosscountry services are asked to check the National Rail website before travelling at www.nationalrail.co.uk

Freight services are being diverted via routes including the West Coast Main Line and the Great Western Main line.