Trains suspended between Guildford, Farnham and Ash as Network Rail engineers work to fix Surrey landslip: wanborough landslip near Guildford

Wednesday 30 Dec 2020

Trains suspended between Guildford, Farnham and Ash as Network Rail engineers work to fix Surrey landslip

Region & Route:
Southern: Wessex
| Southern

Engineers are working round the clock to repair a landslip in Surrey, which has shut the railway between Guildford, Aldershot and Wokingham near the hamlet of Wanborough.

Following recent heavy rain, a railway embankment near to Westwood Lane bridge began to slip and requires urgent repairs. Work is underway and the aim is for trains to run again from Wednesday, 6 January.

No South Western Railway trains are running on the line between Guildford and Farnham, and Great Western Railway services from Reading are terminating at Ash. Ticket acceptance is in place on local bus routes between Ash and Aldershot, Guilford and Farnham and there is a rail replacement bus service between North Camp, Guildford and Redhill for onward connections. Customers travelling between Gatwick and Reading can also use Gatwick Express services to London Victoria for London Underground connection to Paddington.

As part of this urgent and essential work, Network Rail will be stabilising the embankment near Westwood Lane bridge by sinking a wall of steel into the ground, to prevent earth below the embankment from moving any further. Sheet piling involves hammering reinforced steel beams into the ground and engineers will be employing the least obtrusive method of completing this work, in order to keep any noise as low as possible.

Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex route director, said:

“Our engineers have been working around the clock to shore up the railway and we’re not able to run trains while the work goes on.  I’m really sorry that passengers are facing difficult journeys this week and our team are working as hard as they can to get the railway back to normal as soon as possible.

“We aim to fix the embankment by 6 January and we will share updates as this work carries on through our social media channels. You can also check with South Western Railway and Great Western Railway to see how your essential journey is affected.”

Network Rail Southern region's route asset manager for geotechnics, Derek Butcher, said:

“The railway near Wanborough is built from clay, which is not a material we would build railways on these days, but our Victorian ancestors weren’t so advanced with their knowledge of soil mechanics. Clay absorbs water like a sponge and once it reaches saturation – where it can’t absorb any more - it loses its strength. In this case part of it has moved out from underneath the weight of the railway embankment, what we call a rotational failure, and the track has dipped down above it.”

The landslip is around 40m in length, and engineers will repair that first, allowing the railway to open, while work will continue to extend the sheet pile wall to a full 80m to future-proof the site and stop any further slippage.

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Leonard Bennett

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