CUMBRIAN rail users are being reminded to plan ahead as engineering works on a part of the West Coast Main Line start today.

A major junction on the line will be closed for 16 days to allow vital engineering work to be carried out.

Network Rail will be upgrading track, cabling, overhead lines and signalling on the busy Acton Grange junction between July 20 and August 4. The junction, in Warrington, is used by more than 260 trains every day.

Acton Grange is a key section of the west coast main line between Crewe and Preston.

While the £27 million Great North Rail Project scheme takes place, many train services will be diverted via alternative routes, and replacement buses in place.

Network Rail say direct services between Carlisle and London Euston will run, but will be diverted between Wigan and Crewe, via Manchester Piccadilly. Services between Carlisle and London Euston via Birmingham will terminate at Preston (for trains south) and Crewe (for trains north).

Passengers travelling to and from Birmingham will need to take a rail replacement bus service between Preston and Crewe to pick up connecting trains.

Martin Frobisher, managing director for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “The west coast main line is Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway. It is the economic backbone of Britain.

“With more than 260 trains using this junction every day, it is vital to keep it in good condition.

“We need to replace it and upgrade it to ensure a reliable railway for passengers for many years to come.

“To deliver work of this scale and magnitude, we must close the junction for 16 days this summer.

“The alternative would be many weekends of disruption to passengers and much higher cost.

“We have worked closely with our train and freight operator colleagues to minimise the disruption and to keep as many trains moving as possible. I would urge passengers to plan ahead and check before they travel at”