Landslip at Crewkerne closes railway between Salisbury and Exeter until Monday: Crewkerne Tunnel landslip aerial view

Tuesday 5 Dec 2023

Landslip at Crewkerne closes railway between Salisbury and Exeter until Monday

Region & Route:
| Southern: Wessex

South Western Railway (SWR) services between Salisbury and Exeter will remain unable to run until Monday morning while the railway is closed to allow Network Rail engineers to repair a landslip at Crewkerne Tunnel.

Network Rail and SWR are urging customers not to attempt to travel between Salisbury and Exeter until Monday 11 December.

Network Rail completed inspections late last night and early this morning to assess the situation before engineers began work using ropes to abseil down the cutting and start removing vegetation before beginning excavating debris.

Over the coming days, Network Rail’s team of engineers will work around the clock to excavate around 100 tonnes of clay, soil and vegetation from around the tunnel entrance to help stabilise the cutting.

Engineers are initially excavating by hand, lowering the debris to the track via chutes before its transported away on an engineering train. A long reach excavator will also be brought in and situated on top of the tunnel using an extra-long arm and bucket to help with the removal of the debris.

As a result, SWR is unable to run services between Salisbury and Exeter St David’s and is urging customers not to attempt to travel on this route, particularly as severe flooding continues to impact the planned rail replacement bus services.

Matt Pocock, Network Rail Wessex route director, said: “I would like to say how sorry we are for the disruption passengers are experiencing following a landslip at Crewkerne tunnel.

“We’ve experienced over 90mm of sustained heavy rain over the past 48 hours and this has resulted in movement in the earth on the cutting above the tunnel entrance which, if action isn’t taken, could spill over onto the tracks and risk the safety of passenger services.

“Our team of engineers are already working extremely hard day and night and in all conditions to remove over 100 tonnes of debris and will be doing all they can so we can reopen the line and passengers can resume travelling on Monday morning.”

Steve Tyler, South Western Railway’s Performance and Planning Director, said: “We’re really sorry that the emergency closure of Crewkerne tunnel means we won’t be able to serve stations between Salisbury and Exeter St David’s until Monday.

“We know how disruptive this is for customers in run up to Christmas, so our teams are examining potential ways to run an extremely limited service between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction via Westbury in the coming days. Please check our website for the latest updates.”

Notes to Editors

Following over 90mm of heavy rain and resulting flooding yesterday (Monday 4 December), tiny monitoring sensors installed into the ground detected movement of the earth on the cutting above the entrance to Crewkerne Tunnel on the line between Crewkerne and Yeovil Junction stations.

To keep customers safe and enable services to keep running through this area, Network Rail introduced a 20mph speed restriction at midday. However, further heavy rain resulted in flooding inside the tunnel and with movement of debris continuing on the cutting, so a decision was made to close the line at 1800 for safety reasons.

ASLEF strike action takes place on the SWR network on Wednesday 6 December, with an extremely limited service running on a small number of lines, and no services running all day west of Salisbury.

Ongoing engineering work continues to close the line between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction until Monday.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Rob Breckon
Senior Communications Manager - Southern
Network Rail
07395 390759

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: