Railway line to reopen by Easter

Work taking place to clear the landslip at Harbury NNL-150217-112311001
Work taking place to clear the landslip at Harbury NNL-150217-112311001

The railway line between Banbury and Leamington Spa is to reopen by Easter.

The line has been closed since the end of January after 350,000 tonnes of earth covered the line during a landslip near Harbury.

It is a key route between Birmingham and London and is used by more than 50 freight trains and 80 passenger trains a day.

Network Rail has been working to remove the earth and has so far removed 100,000 tonnes and has installed monitoring equipment to track the landslip’s movement. It is hoped the line will be open again by April 2.

A replacement bus service between Banbury and Leamington Spa will continue to be in use until the line reopens.

Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “We’ve been working around the clock to safely reopen the railway as soon as possible and are now able to give passengers and freight operators confirmation that services between Leamington Spa and Banbury will restart by Easter.

“The line provides a vital link for more than 130 passenger and freight trains every day and our engineers are working tirelessly to make the landslip safe and make it possible to reopen the line within the next six weeks.

“This cutting has suffered from landslips since it was built in the 1840s and we are looking at what new engineering solutions are available to make it safer and less at risk to landslips in the future.”

Rob Brighouse, managing director of Chiltern Railways, said: “We are fully supportive of the approach and it is absolutely right the line should only be reopened when it is safe to do so. We are working in close partnership with Network Rail and doing our utmost to ensure that the impact on passengers is minimised.

“In the meantime, we have reduced fares so that West Midlands to London passengers only pay the equivalent of a Banbury to London fare and put in place a “step-straight-on” bus replacement service between Leamington and Banbury stations.”