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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 August 2005, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Tunnel collapse line due to open
Collapsed tunnel
Investigators report the Gerrards Cross tunnel design is "safe"
A busy commuter rail route is to reopen seven weeks after a tunnel collapse.

The line through Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire was closed on 30 June when a tunnel collapsed next to where a new Tesco store was under construction.

It is to reopen on Saturday ready for commuter services to begin on Monday, Network Rail said.

The line, which has now been declared safe, serves commuters into London from the Chilterns area and is also an inter-city link to the Midlands.

Reconstruction work has been carried out over the past seven weeks and experts have investigated the construction site.

'Tunnel is safe'

"Since the collapse, Tesco and its contractors have removed more than 25,000 tonnes of earth and some 60 metres of tunnel structure," a spokesman said.

Independent engineering experts have reviewed the tunnel design, the building practices and the earth used as infill.

They have agreed with Tesco and its consultants that the structure is safe for trains.

Network Rail chief executive John Armitt said: "Now we are satisfied that the tunnel is safe, our engineers have moved in and will be working night and day, rebuilding the track and signalling damaged in the tunnel collapse, to get trains moving once again.

"I appreciate the last seven weeks have been extremely frustrating for passengers.

"However we could not contemplate re-opening the line unless we were satisfied that the Tesco tunnel was completely safe."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the collapsed tunnel



SEE ALSO:
Tunnel collapse causes rail chaos
01 Jul 05 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts


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