A KEY railway line has reopened after a 10-week closure because of an unsafe viaduct.

The closure affected thousands of county travellers on the Great Western Railway line.

The railway between Didcot and Oxford was closed on April 3 after significant movements in the 160-year-old viaduct were detected, despite recent ground stabilisation work.

Services had been expected to begin again on Saturday (June 11) but the first passenger trains are running on the line today (June 9).

More than 100 daily passenger services have been cancelled since the route was closed affecting both Great Western Railway and CrossCountry.

The issue also forced around 40 freight trains each day to be diverted.

Around 800 people have worked on the repairs, which have included demolishing and rebuilding part of the 150-tonne bridge and creating stronger foundations.

Engineers will remain on site for up to 12 weeks to finish the work.

Network Rail capital delivery director Stuart Calvert said: “We have been monitoring this bridge ever since this has been built

“We knew there was an issue with this embankment sinking and about three years ago we did a really detailed assessment of what we needed to do.

"Engineering wise it’s really significant work and at the same time, we have had to manage service and huge work in operation in providing alternative bus arrangements between Oxford and Didcot and diverting freight trains.

Malvern Gazette: Stuart Calvert, Capital Delivery Director for Network Rail, has been tasked to oversee repairs of

“We never want to shut a railway and disrupt passengers or divert freight trains or cancel them.

“Service is absolutely the prime objection in running a railway. We are genuinely sorry for the passengers we have disrupted.

“We did everything we could to not shut the railway but when we did we had people working 24/7 to get the railway open in the shortest time possible

“A complex and challenging repair like this would normally take two to three years to complete, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of our talented teams of engineers, and industry experts, this major project has been turned around in just under 10 weeks.

“Once again, I would like to thank our passengers, freight customers, local community and our industry partners for their patience, understanding and support while we carried out this work, which will protect this important rail link for generations to come.”

Claudia Philps, programme manager for Network Rail, said: “It’s fantastic to see trains running again, it’s been a mammoth effort by everyone.

“A lot of time has gone into delivering this, so it’s huge relief to see trains running again but we do appreciate everyone’s patience whilst we have been doing it.

“It is an incredible achievement to complete this in 66 days.”

Rail minister Huw Merriman, said: “It’s welcome news that services will return for rail passengers and commuters in Oxfordshire, after what has been a disruptive couple of months.  

“I would like to thank travellers and freight operators for their patience as well as Network Rail for carrying out this essential work so efficiently.”