Network Rail has been working with experts from the colliery since movement was detected in early February. Initial estimates had indicated the line could be restored as soon as July. However a combination of the difficult conditions and continuing bad weather mean that date is at risk.
Phil Verster, Route Managing Director, explained: “This site is incredibly complex and, if not properly managed, potentially dangerous. We have been actively involved on site for several weeks but the processes required to make the ground safe to work on are slower than we had hoped. I fully appreciate the importance of restoring a direct rail service to communities and businesses in Cleethorpes, Scunthorpe, Goole and other places affected by the slip and my team and I are committed to do so as quickly as possible. We continue to aim for restoration of services in July, however we now anticipate that the railway may not be repaired until September this year.
“We will do anything we can do to safely accelerate the repair programme and to reinstate services. In the meantime we are working with the operators of passenger and freight traffic to make best use of the network during this difficult time. That process continues and if there are changes we can make to improve the service we are able to offer then we will. We remain grateful to the patience of passengers and freight customers as we deal with this issue.”
Several sets of engineering works which had been planned by Network Rail are being revised in order to keep as many services running as possible. In particular the GNGE line project is being adapted in order to allow the 140 freight trains which would normally run through Hatfield & Stainforth each day to be accommodated on the Brigg and Lincoln lines. These trains are essential to the UK economy as, among other goods, they carry oil for aviation fuel, steel which is critical for production process and rail works and coal to the power stations for electricity generation.
Mr Verster added: “The events leading to the disruption to rail services were entirely outside the control of the railway. We are working actively and tirelessly to minimise that disruption and to restore services as quickly as possible. Working with the colliery, we are making good progress on the repair which requires around a million cubic metres of material to be moved. We will continue to work with train operators to publish detailed timetables and information to allow passengers to plan their journeys.
“An important date for the railway is 20 July when work starts to fully upgrade the signalling and track layout at Nottingham station, further restricting the paths available for essential freight trains. The following week work is scheduled at Selby, blocking that route for trains. We continue to make every effort to complete the fix at Hatfield & Stainforth before these dates. However our train planners are also working with operators to develop a robust plan which can be used in the event that the repair at Hatfield is not complete. This includes making sure there is a viable route connecting Hull and east Yorkshire with Doncaster and the East Coast Main Line. Hull will not be cut off from the main network. Details of diversionary routes and alternative services will be published in the next three to four weeks.”
Currently affected operators First TransPennine Express and Northern Rail continue to work with Network Rail to keep passengers moving during the disruption. First TransPennine Express continues to explore the possibility of operating a limited weekend rail service via the Brigg route.
A spokesman for the companies said: "We appreciate the potential extension of the repair work is not ideal for our customers but it is imperative that Network Rail complete the works safely before handing the line back into service. Together, we are operating nearly 150 replacement buses a day between Doncaster, Hull, Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes and have additional staff at our stations to help with customer enquiries.
“Customer and community feedback is extremely helpful to us as we are continually assessing our plans to ensure we are providing the best possible alternatives.
"We would like to thank customers for their patience and understanding and assure them we are all working together to return rail services in the area as soon as possible."
Notes to editors
Current revised train times during the Hatfield & Stainforth disruption
First TransPennine Express services to Cleethorpes – replaced by buses between Doncaster and Scunthorpe.
First Hull trains running via Selby as usual
Northern Rail services between Leeds & Goole via Knottingley operating as normal.
Northern Rail services between Doncaster and Hull are diverted via Selby. Buses will serve intermediate stations between Doncaster and Goole. Train services are operating between Goole and Hull
Northern Rail services to Scunthorpe are replaced with buses between Doncaster and Scunthorpe.
Northern Rail services between Sheffield and Cleethorpes via Brigg which operate on Saturdays only are running as normal.
Freight services – approximately 150 services per day being diverted via a circular route over the Brigg Lincoln lines.
Proposed improvements to services above
The Brigg line is already highly congested because of the disruption but potential plans for a limited weekend service operated by First TransPennine Express are being explored. Further details of such will be released as and when plans are confirmed.
Please see attached Supporting information for details regarding limitations on the route and planned engineering acticvity, including Selby swing bridge and Nottingham.
Images from site will continue to be added to the online gallery here: http://www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/Gallery?SubjectID=653
About Network Rail
Network Rail is the not for dividend owner and operator of Britain's railway infrastructure, which includes the tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, level crossings and stations - the largest of which we also manage. We aim to provide a safe, reliable and efficient rail infrastructure for freight and passenger trains to use. www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk