RAIL services between Glasgow Central and Carlisle have been cancelled until February after a bridge was “significantly damaged” by Storm Frank.
Passengers using the West Coast Main Line between these two stations will have to use a replacement bus service or a rail shuttle via Dumfries, adding around 90 minutes to their journey.
The line is expected to re-open on February 1st.
Engineers are carrying out repairs to the Lamington Viaduct, on the outskirts of Lockerbie, after damage caused by Storm Frank turned out to be worse than expected.
Network Rail said one of the bridge’s supporting piers is was “significantly damaged” during the storm, and is now structurally unstable.
Investigations into the full extent of the damage will continue until the end of next week.
Contingency options such as running single line running have been considered but this will only be implemented when it can be done safely.
The closure will mainly affect passengers travelling cross-Border with Virgin Trains, the franchise-holder for the West Coast Main Line, as well as people using First Transpennine Express services and the Caledonian Sleeper.
“We will continue to provide a replacement coach service for passengers between Carlisle and Glasgow, and there is also an alternative train service running on a diversionary route – however this is a limited service and will also add around 90 minutes to the journey.
“Virgin Trains tickets are being accepted on our East Coast services between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh, and also on Cross Country services between Birmingham and Glasgow. Passengers should expect these services to be much busier than usual, and anyone who can postpone or cancel their journey should seriously consider doing so.
“We will of course give a full refund for anyone who decides not to travel.”
Paul Watson, operations director at First Transpennine Express, added: “The severe weather has caused significant structural damage to Lamington viaduct on the main route between Manchester and Scotland and Network Rail have rightly closed the bridge for safety reasons.
“Unfortunately events like this are outside of both our and Network Rail’s control.
“Whilst a full structural analysis has yet to be completed we are expecting the line to be closed for a significant amount of time, meaning potentially weeks rather than days.
“This is clearly a significant inconvenience for our customers and will cause longer and amended journeys.
“As an industry however we have been working hard to ensure that cross border travel is available. Customers are advised to either travel via the East Coast Mainline, changing from Manchester at York or Newcastle for services to Edinburgh or using the coach replacement services between Carlisle and Glasgow.
“We have lifted ticket restrictions and are strongly advising customers to check the details of their journey before travelling.”
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance and of Network Rail Scotland, said engineers were working to re-open the route as soon as possible.
He said: “Our engineers have been working round the clock for the past few days, in extremely difficult conditions, to try and gain access to the Viaduct so that we can understand the scale of the damage that has been caused by Storm Frank. While that assessment work is not yet fully complete, it is clear now that the damage is significant.
“We are already working on solutions as to how we get the Viaduct fixed and allow us to safely run trains over it again.”
Caledonian Sleeper services are scheduled to run on alternative routes, generally via the East Coast Main Line, but will be subject to delays.
Passengers using the Sleeper between Perth and Inverness have already faced disruption due to flooding which has damaged the line Dunkeld & Birnam and Pitlochry. Repairs are expected to continue until January 11.
Source: Herald Scotand.