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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 13:07 GMT
Rail works hit festive travellers
Virgin Train
Virgin Trains accused Network Rail of "bullying" them
People travelling to celebrate New Year's Eve could be hit after rail engineering work already planned for the Christmas period was extended.

Network Rail said it was "extremely sorry" it had to keep the West Coast Mainline shut for an extra day at Rugby, Warwickshire, until 1 January.

It will affect mainly Virgin Trains to and from the West Midlands, north Wales, north-west England and Scotland.

Virgin accused Network Rail of bullying, by giving such short notice.

It said it had referred the matter to the Office of Rail Regulation, which said it would investigate if Network Rail had breached its operator's licence.

'In a mess'

There will also be no direct trains from the Midlands to London Euston, but services will run to London Marylebone.

Some services from London Midland and some sleeper trains from First ScotRail will also be affected.

Rail companies said hundreds of people who booked tickets for trains would have to use rail replacement buses instead.

Chris Gibb, managing director for Virgin Trains, said Network Rail's engineering planning processes were in a mess.

'Extremely sorry'

He added that 50,000 passengers had already booked tickets with the company to travel on 31 December.

Network Rail said the work, which will start on Christmas Day, was essential to upgrade the line and allow it to take more trains in the future.

A statement said: "Network Rail is extremely sorry for the short notice of this extra day's work but believes it is absolutely necessary to deliver the longer term benefits that the Rugby scheme, and other projects on the route, will bring - faster and more frequent services."

A Network Rail spokesman urged passengers to check with their train company before starting their journey.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Network Rail has already apologised



SEE ALSO
Rail station closure hits travel
21 Dec 07 |  England

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