Storm damage hits services

Glasgow to Carlisle rail services out of action until February

Virgin TrainsRail services between Glasgow and Carlisle on the West Coast Main Line have been cancelled until February as a result of damage caused by the recent storms.

Passengers using Virgin Trains will be forced to use bus services or a diverted train via Dumfries, adding 90 minutes to their journey. Transpennine services between Manchester and Scotland are also affected.

It is the second major transport blow to Scotland following the closure of the Forth Road Bridge, which remains shut to heavy goods vehicles, also until February.

Network Rail said Storm Frank caused significant damage to the Lamington Viaduct near Lockerbie and services are not expected to resume until 1 February to allow for repairs. It has brought in engineers to work around the clock.

Phil Verster, managing director of Network Rail Scotland, 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. However, it is likely that it will take us to the end of January until we can reopen it. If we can get it opened earlier, then of course we will. However, customers should plan for the work to continue until the end of the month.”

He advised customers to check before they travel on the line.

Virgin Trains apologised for the disruption. Phil Bearpark, executive director of Operations for Virgin Trains on the West Coast, said the diverted train route is “limited and will also add around 90 minutes to the journey”.

He said: “Safety is always the most important consideration on the railway and we support Network Rail’s decision to close the West Coast Mainline between England and Scotland until they are sure it is safe to run trains.

“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.”

First Transpennine Express services between Manchester and Scotland have also been hit by the closure.

Paul Watson, operations director at First Transpennine Express, said: “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 Main Line, changing from Manchester at York or Newcastle for services to Edinburgh or using the coach replacement services between Carlisle and Glasgow.”

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