Emergency work to secure a landslip hit section of the West Coast main line near Warrington has successfully reopened the railway for passengers a day ahead of schedule.

Dutton Viaduct near Acton Bridge was forced to close southbound on Sunday 1 March. The land slipped during Storm Jorge, following the wettest February on record.

Network Rail engineers spent 12 hours last night (Monday 2 March) placing 380 tonnes of rock to strengthen the damaged embankment.

Up to 100 tonnes more reinforcement stone will be added when trains aren’t running over the next two nights.

As the work went better than expected, the railway reopened this morning a day earlier than predicted.

However, passengers are being advised their journeys will take longer than usual, with a 20mph speed limit over the viaduct in force while ground conditions are closely monitored.

Phil James, director for Network Rail’s North West route, said: “I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while we’ve been working hard to make Dutton Viaduct safe for trains again.

“Many people’s journeys over the last 48 hours will have been tough and for that I can only apologise. Our priority was to make the railway safe and get it back up and running again as soon as we could, and I’m glad to say we’ve done this faster than expected.”

As the emergency repairs are only a temporary fix, trains have to run at a reduced speed of 20mph while engineers continue to assess the stability of the ground.

Because of the speed restrictions journeys will take longer so passengers are advised to check www.nationalrail.co.uk or with their train operator before they travel.