New track closures bring chaos

We are now going to have to blitz the network and run it for safety, says Railtrack chief
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The Independent Online

Added problems hit Britain's rail network today, with a major rail line hit by closures both in England and Scotland in the wake of last week's Hatfield rail crash.

Added problems hit Britain's rail network today, with a major rail line hit by closures both in England and Scotland in the wake of last week's Hatfield rail crash.

Firstly, after a short-notice announcement from Railtrack last night, the West Coast line between Carlisle and Glasgow was closed for three days from 8am.

A Railtrack spokeswoman said: "This precautionary measure has been taken to cause the minimum of disruption to passengers and freight services and has been imposed as a blanket measure rather than cause severe disruption to services as a result of temporary speed restrictions over an extended period of several weeks."

Then today it was announced that the West Coast main line between Milton Keynes and Rugby was also being closed for checks. Diversions were expected to add 40 minutes at least to already-extended journey times.

Further restrictions were imposed on Great Western services through Oxfordshire as new speed limits were introduced. Restrictions are currently in place on more than 150 sites nationwide in the wake of fears over track safety.

Railtrack chief executive Gerald Corbett said: "I would like to apologise to all rail passengers. It is going to be an extremely difficult week for them. We are now going to have to blitz the network and run it for safety."

Meanwhile, an investigation was today launched into claims that a commuter train travelled one of Britain's busiest lines without its driver. A report in the Daily Express said that a Reading-to-London Waterloo train was driven by an unsupervised trainee after its driver was left behind in the toilet at Richmond.

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