RAIL users in Cumbria have been thanked for their patience following a 16-day closure of part of the West Coast main line.

The Acton Grange junction, based near Warrington, reopened fully to train services on the Carlisle to London on Monday.

The £27m overhaul, which was part of the Great North Rail Project, saw upgrades to track, cabling, overhead lines and signalling.

The vital 16-day upgrade brought outdated track and equipment up to modern standards and further improved the line.

While the work took place, Carlisle-bound trains were rerouted through Manchester.

The travel plan was agreed by the rail industry to keep passengers and goods moving on trains as much as possible.

The work finished as planned despite the team experiencing extreme weather changes over the last two weeks – including extreme temperatures, heavy rain and thunderstorms.

David Golding, acting route managing director, said: “Our complete overhaul of Acton Grange junction is vital as it sits on the West Coast main line, Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway.

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

"Our upgrades will ensure this vital part of the railway stays reliable for passengers for many years to come.

“I want to thank passengers for bearing with us while we delivered this much-needed work.”

Network Rail has minimised future disruption to passengers in the area by bringing forward other engineering work to coincide with the 16-day closure of Acton Grange junction.

Teams upgraded 4km of track and 2km of drainage through nearby Sutton Tunnel.

A track crossing was also removed near Runcorn East station.

Rail officials say this saved a further 13-day closure of the West Coast main line and has improved safety and reliability of these well-used sections of track.