Tuesday 21 Jan 2020
VIDEO AND PICTURES: Redhill-Tonbridge railway to reopen by the end of March as Network Rail starts work repairing massive landslip
- Region & Route:
- Landslip at a remote site between Godstone and Edenbridge closed the railway on 22 December and will require 40,000 tonnes of stone to build it back up again (to be delivered by train).
- Buses replace trains between Redhill and Edenbridge and a weekday train service runs between Edenbridge and Tonbridge (bus replacement over the full line on weekends)
- The plan is to reopen the railway as soon as possible by fixing the existing slip and simultaneously work on a longer-term fix to stop any further slips happening on this stretch of line.
Network Rail and engineers from contractor BAM Nuttall have begun work to repair a landslip at a remote location between Edenbridge and Godstone on the Redhill-Tonbridge railway.
The railway has been cut in half since 22 December, when a train driver noticed the track starting to dip on a 12m high embankment that carries the railway over the Eden Valley.
The slip is one of the largest the railway of the South East has faced in many years and it has taken several weeks to plan a response.
Network Rail Route Director for Kent, Fiona Taylor, said: “This landslip is a serious challenge for us, not just because of the scale of the slide but also the remoteness of the location. To give you some idea of the size of the slip, we are having to bring 40,000 tonnes of stone in from as far away as Carlisle to build the bank back up again and we’ve had to cut through the remaining part of the railway just to gain access to it.
“Our passengers have been very patient with us and we are doing everything we can to speed this project along and working 24/7 to get the railway open. Once we have an exact date we will let everyone know and if we can achieve that earlier than the end of March then we will.”
Southern’s Customer Services Director Chris Fowler said: “We really appreciate our passengers’ patience while this section of railway is rebuilt. Everyone is working together to keep passengers moving with replacement services and alternative travel options, including ticket acceptance on other lines and at other car parks. We welcome the good news that Network Rail has been able to start this challenging repair, allowing the line to reopen as soon as is safely possible, and we will support them in keeping you updated regularly on progress.”
To get access to the slip, engineers have built a road across a field and cut a section of the embankment out, while building a temporary bridge to carry vital cables over the gap. Around 40 trains are being planned to bring 40,000tonnes of recycled railway ballast to site – the weight of almost 100 Jumbo Jets - as the local roads are too narrow to allow lorries access.
While that work is going on, Network Rail is working on plans to reinforce the longer, 400m section of railway that crosses the Eden Valley at this location, to stop any future slips. This work will continue without affecting trains.
The landslip followed a month of rain in one week, on already saturated ground. This winter has seen a total of six months rain in the space of three months.
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Notes to Editors
- Redhill-Tonbridge line was commissioned in 1836, one of the oldest in the world.
- Embankment built of Wealden Clay, dumped on alluvial soil (gravelly soil laid down by the River Eden). After extreme rain, the River Eden burst its banks and soaked the already saturated ground around the railway. The clay embankment – built with a very steep-sided bank - then slipped towards the river in what is called a “deep rotational failure”.
- Repairs will be from recycled railway ballast – granite chippings that have been crushed and washed – shipped from across the UK by rail. These will be built up with a shallower slope to provide a strong fix.
- Each train will carry 1,000 tonnes of stone and will take 18 hours to unload.
Passengers / community members
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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.
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