Train passengers will today have to contend with the first of three August weekend part-closures of a key London to Scotland rail route.

Work on an £81 million improvement plan at Watford in Hertfordshire means that the West Coast line will be closed between Euston station in London and Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire today and tomorrow.

The Watford work will affect services run by Virgin Trains, London Midland, London Overground and Southern, with some disruption continuing on Monday.

The same closure will be in place from Saturday August 16 to Monday August 18 and also from Saturday August 23 to bank holiday Monday August 25.

The closure will affect travellers on the West Coast as far from London as the north west of England. The first of the closures co-incides with the first weekend of the Football League season, with Network Rail (NR) warning fans to expect disruption.

An NR spokesman said: "We're investing tens of millions of pounds in August to build a bigger and better railway. Working over the quieter summer period means that disruption is kept to a minimum, but it will inevitably mean changes to journeys for some football fans.

"We know that many people rely on rail to follow their teams, which is why we have been working closely with football clubs across the country to make sure they're aware of what we're doing and can help advise fans of the best way to get to games."