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Chiltern main line reopens after emergency landslip repairs

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Network Rail has thanked passengers after completing major repairs to shore up a landslip on the Chiltern main line after storms and heavy rain destabilised a railway embankment in Bicester.

The railway between London Marylebone, Oxford, and the Midlands reopened this morning (Tuesday 16 January) after rail engineers closed the line for two days to rebuild an embankment allowing trains to safely resume.

On Thursday 11 January 1,200 tonnes of earth moved from a railway embankment in the village of Launton after persistent heavy rainfall weakened the earth beneath it.

Although the landslip affected only one of two tracks, engineers needed to close the line entirely to safely repair and fully reopen the Chiltern main line for passengers and freight services.

Network Rail has worked round-the-clock with its contractor Murphy to drive 65 new steel piles into the ground next to the affected section of track. Approximately 3,000 tonnes of ballast (railway stone) has been used to rebuild the embankment and support the tracks above.

Adam Checkley, infrastructure director for Network Rail, said: “I’m sorry to passengers who’ve been affected by the closure of the Chiltern main line while we completed emergency repairs to the landslip near Bicester North station.

I’m pleased to advise that we’ve reopened both tracks this morning – initially with a reduced speed limit – which means passenger and freight trains can run again. I want to thank passengers for their patience and ask those travelling to check www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest journey information.”

Richard Allan, managing director of Chiltern Railways, said: “I would like to thank our customers for their patience and apologise again for the significant disruption caused by the landslip on a railway embankment near Bicester. I am grateful for the hard work of all railway colleagues to plan and complete a major repair in less than five days and operate a heavily changed timetable while the work was taking place. I am really pleased that the Chiltern main line is now fully reopen and that we have returned to our usual timetable.”

For safety reasons trains will run at a reduced speed on the affected section of track while engineers monitor the embankment and complete finishing touches to the repairs.

Image credit: Network Rail

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