A LEAKY Victorian train tunnel is being fixed this week – with engineers cramming in a year’s work into five days while travel restrictions are in place.
The Crick tunnel on the Northampton loop of the West Coast main line is closed this week while a year’s worth of overnight weekend work is carried out between Monday (March 15) and Friday (March 19) – thought to be the longest full closure of the tunnel since it opened in 1881.
Because water leaks through the 140-year-old tunnel’s walls, the tracks are prone to flooding – forcing trains to run at slower speeds.
Between 2012 and 2020, freight and passenger trains travelling between London Euston and the Midlands were delayed by the tunnel flooding for a total of more than 10 days.
Network Rail engineers are improving drainage in the tunnel – and a spokesman says doing the work all in one go will save the taxpayer £7.5million.
James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast Mainline South route director, said: “This speedy upgrade of Crick tunnel shows how the rail industry is coming together to get the West Coast main line in the best possible shape for passengers when they can return once coronavirus travel restrictions are eased.
“This is all part of our commitment to build back better as the country emerges from the pandemic. However, as the line will need to close for the major upgrade, I’d urge anyone still making essential journeys to check National Rail Enquiries, so they know what to expect when they travel.”
Buses are replacing trains to keep London Northwestern Railway passengers on the move between Rugby and Northampton.
Avanti West Coast trains are being diverted between Rugby and Milton Keynes, with changes to the departure and arrival times at London Euston.
Passengers making essential journeys are advised to check www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest travel information.