Network Rail apologises to passengers as Buxton line reopening delayed by a day

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Network Rail has apologised to passengers for extending the line closure between Hazel Grove and Buxton by an extra day next week after engineers working on a major project at Whaley Bridge encountered unexpected complications.

The tracks have been shut since Saturday, February 18, to allow for essential work on the grade II bridge over Buxton Road, and had been expected to reopen on Tuesday, February 28.

But the team ran into unexpected problems during the demolition of the Victorian structure, when its underlying condition was visible for the first time and revealed flaws not apparent from earlier surveys. Elements which were intended to stay intact during demolition could not be removed in one go, so that phase took much longer than anticipated.

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Work is ingoing to install a pre-cast concrete bridge deck allowing the railway lines to be reinstated before services resume on Wednesday, March 1.

Train services are due to begin running again next week between Buxton and Hazel Grove via Whaley Bridge.Train services are due to begin running again next week between Buxton and Hazel Grove via Whaley Bridge.
Train services are due to begin running again next week between Buxton and Hazel Grove via Whaley Bridge.

Project manager Helena Williams said: “We’re sorry to passengers that the railway will not open as expected. This is not the position we wanted to be in and understand that a further day of rail replacement buses and longer journey times will be frustrating for people.

“Working on heritage structures, like this 163-year-old bridge, can sometimes be unpredictable and although we had contingency time factored in, we could not foresee the issues we’ve encountered. The good news is that we’ve overcome these setbacks and are confident the extra day is all we need to get the railway reopened for passengers.”

The project team has worked with train operator Northern to run replacement buses between Hazel Grove and Buxton throughout the closure, and that will continue on Tuesday – though the buses cannot serve Whaley Bridge due to road closures.

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Northern’s regional director Chris Jackson said: “While the one-day delay to the re-opening of the line is unfortunate, it is important to remember that all investment in rail infrastructure is to be welcomed and I would like to thank customers for their understanding whilst the final elements of this work are carried out.”

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This delay does not affect the scheduled reopening of the footpath under the bridge which is still due to happen on Sunday, March 5.

Buxton Road will remain closed to traffic until Friday, March 31, and all work is expected to be complete by April 2023.

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