London-Cornwall sleeper trains were disrupted for eight weeks

Night trains between London and Cornwall will be canceled between Monday and Thursday for eight weeks due to a complication with engineering works, Network Rail has announced.

The disruption to the Great Western Railway (GWR) Night Riviera service begins next week, with normal timetables not resuming until Monday 21 March.

Network Rail is building a 209m long shelter on a stretch of track between Dawlish and Holcombe, Devon, to improve protection against rockfall.

Engineers have recently discovered that poor ground conditions mean that foundation installation work cannot be carried out from the side of the railway, so machinery has to be positioned on the track, blocking the route.

Network Rail’s Director of Western Route and Strategic Operations, Mike Gallop, said: “The Parsons Tunnel site is in a challenging location, surrounded by steep cliffs, the sea and a tunnel.

“Whilst it is disappointing to have to close the railway overnight for this period, the safety of those working on the project and our passengers is paramount and we have concluded that piling for this project is carried out in the safest manner possible using a car of piles mounted on the rail. .”

Mr Gallop added that the work had been timed to ensure weekend journeys were not affected and the disruption ended before Easter.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “Our Night Riviera Sleeper service is hugely popular and provides an important link between London and Devon and Cornwall and we are sorry for the disruption this vital engineering work will cause.

“The rockfall shelter extension is a key piece of work which, in the long term, will greatly improve the reliability of train services in the future.”

Mr Hopwood explained that the rail industry would normally focus on reducing services at weekends, but the coronavirus pandemic means carrying out engineering work on weeknights “will cause the least disruption”.

He added: “We look forward to this phase of the work being completed and restoring the world famous Night Riviera Sleeper service to full operation.”

Newton Abbot MP Anne Marie Morris said: “While it is disappointing that we will see line closures to complete this vital work, Network Rail has assured me that every effort is being made to minimize disruption while ensuring that the work can be realised. safely.

“I would ask everyone to bear with Network Rail through this disruption. In the end, we will be the winners with our iconic railway line properly protected for the future.”

The Night Riviera, which runs between London Paddington and Penzance, will continue to operate as normal on Friday and Sunday.

It is one of only two overnight rail services in the UK.

The other, the Caledonian Sleeper, runs between London and Scotland.

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