Thursday 21 Jul 2022
Tunnel upgrades, landslip prevention and anti-flood work to make the West of England line more reliable for customers during 5-day closure between Axminster and Pinhoe
Network Rail engineers will carry out around £5m of delay-busting upgrades between Axminster and Pinhoe from Monday 19 to Friday 23 September.
The five-day closure will give workers uninterrupted access to the railway to carry out landslip prevention work at Honiton Tunnel, one of the most at-risk sites in the south of England.
Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “The West of England line is a key part of the railway on Southern region so it’s vital we continue to invest to give our customers the reliable service they deserve.
“While we have tiny electronic sensors in the ground at Honiton Tunnel to monitor any movement so we can keep our passengers safe, it’s incredibly important that we carry out these works to stabilise the earth so we can prevent future landslips and lengthy disruption.
“By doing the work over five days means we can avoid a series of back-to-back weekend closures which would be even more disruptive, plus we can take advantage of the extended access to complete other upgrades and vital track maintenance.”
As well as installing two retaining walls, 32 metres and 16 metres in length, sheet piles (metal posts with concrete planks in the middle for added support) will protect the line from lengthy closures caused by landslips. Engineers will also carry out vital track maintenance to give customers a more reliable train service.
On top of that we are improving existing drainage systems and installing a new one. So together with strengthening the cutting, the improved drainage will make the line more resilient to extreme weather and heavy rainfall.
East Devon District Council will also use the railway closure to complete a huge project to protect 65 homes in Feniton from flooding.
Peter Williams, South Western Railway’s commercial director, said: “The upgrades that Network Rail is carrying out will significantly boost the reliability and resilience of a vital part of our network.
“Customers intending to travel from Monday until Friday should check before they travel and make use of the alternative transport options which have been provided.
“We recognise the decision to close the line for an entire working week will have a significant impact on those who use the line, but this will avoid a more protracted series of closures instead.
“We would like to thank those affected customers for their patience and understanding as this important modernisation work is carried out.”
The closure is part of a series of major upgrades planned for the West of England line, totalling millions of pounds of investment (details of further closures in notes to editors), which will make journeys more reliable for customers for years to come.
Similar earthworks will be carried out along the route in December and there is another extended line closure next year too.
- Buses replace SWR services from Axminster to Exeter St Davids.
Notes to Editors
Other work set to take place on the West of England line:
- December 10 – December 17, 2022: Salisbury to Yeovil Junction - landslip prevention at Gillingham tunnel, track improvements in the Tisbury and Gillingham areas
- November 25 – December 10, 2023: Templecombe switches and crossings renewal, Gillingham tunnel cutting maintenance, track maintenance, Templecombe and Gillingham station improvements
Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41
Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries
Media Communications Manager (Southern)
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.