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30 January 2014, 06:00
Heart has learned Network Rail have scrapped a planned SIXTEEN day continuous closure of the main line through Watford Junction later this year.
The rail maintenance and infrastructure firm, based in Milton Keynes, were going to shut the line for more than 2-weeks in August - for new track and signals; but they've now worked out they can do the same work - across five new weekend closures instead.
The £81m scheme was announced last July and had initially warned engineers wanted to shut a 12 mile section of the line through Watford Junction for 16 continuous days in August 2014.
Now, Network Rail said they have undertaken a thorough review of the project and - according a letter send to 'stakeholders', the organisation says "as a result of intense activity, we have identified ways to rationalise the proposed scope and also deliver the essential renewals required.
Though this process we were also able to reduce the number of days the railway will be closed at Watford Junction. This has been made possible by reducing the complexity of the track layout."
Heart been speaking to Milton Keynes MP Iain Stewart who said people had told him they were already working out alternative journies away from Milton Keynes to places like Bedford and taking the train to London when the weekend closure go instead of the total closure.
Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill's told Heart: "It's really necessary work, let's be honest we all want the work to go ahead. Network Rail were already looking at reducing the number of days in August. For them now to announce series of weekend closures instead, that's a real shift - and that's to Network Rail's credit."
The closure dates will NOW be:-
The works will include: