A large landslip near Harbury Tunnel is to keep the railway line between Banbury and Leamington closed and cause disruption for train passengers for several weeks, Network Rail has said.
Bus replacement services are currently running between Leamington and Banbury and a revised service is in effect between Banbury and Marylebone, Birmingham and Leamington, and Stratford and Leamington.
Network Rail will be working with train operators on alternative services for the next few weeks, and will be able to give a clearer idea on timings within the next two weeks.
Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “This is a massive incident and I am making sure we have all the resources we need to tackle this problem.
“Our safety precautions ensured the railway was shut before there was any risk to passengers. Looking forward, our focus is on making sure the site is safe before our engineers move any of the affected earthworks.
“We know just how important this key route between Birmingham and London is, for both passengers and freight.
“I can assure passengers, whose journeys are being disrupted, that we will do our utmost to restore their services as soon as possible. However, it may take several weeks before we can start some services.”
Network Rail had been carrying out stabilisation work at the site after a much smaller landslide nearby last February.
These works were underway when the slope failed at 2.30pm on Saturday.
No one was injured.
The company is working with landowners to gain access and plan the safe removal of materials – with investigations suggesting that up to 350,000 tonnes of earth and rock will need to be removed.
On Monday passengers took to social media calling for the re-opening of the ‘Stratford to Honeybourne missing link’.
Fraser Pithie said: “Many comments supported the re-instatement of a railway line which would need to be relaid a about five miles from Stratford station to Long Marston where a branch to the Cotswold line still exists.
“Those supporting the line’s reinstatement pointed out that if it were in place at least Cross Country services could have diverted at Tyseley and Hatton and connected to the recently re-doubled Cotswold line at Honeybourne with possibly some capacity for Chiltern services too.
“Stratford District Council is currently considering the line’s re-opening as part of its Core Planning Strategy.”