Network Rail engineers are accelerating work to rebuild a cutting at the entrance to a tunnel on the London to Hastings line to reduce the risk of landslips at the site.
A potential landslip at the southern end of Wadhurst Tunnel was picked up by early warning alarms in December, and the railway was protected immediately with temporary measures. A team had been mobilised to repair it, along with several other defects, over the course of this year.
However, as the Tonbridge section of the Hastings line is already closed until 20 February to repair a landslip at High Brooms, engineers are taking the opportunity to repair this section too.
The London to Hastings line was constructed in the 1850s along difficult and steep terrain. Extremely heavy and prolonged rainfall over the winter, combined with the complex and unstable geology, means that Network Rail now needs to undertake this extra work as soon as possible.
“Fiona Taylor, Network Rail Route Director for Kent, said: “While it’s always regrettable to have to close any section of line, this winter’s weather has taken its toll on the Hastings Line and doing this work at Wadhurst Tunnel now means we can reduce the amount of time we need to close the line during planned works during the rest of this year.
“It is absolutely essential that our railway is safe to travel on and this work will reinforce and protect the line for years to come.
“Thank you to our passengers and lineside neighbours for their patience and understanding whilst we carry out these important works.”
The line will be closed between Tunbridge Wells and Robertsbridge from Monday 15 February, and a bus replacement service will be put on the rest of the way to Tonbridge for passengers. The line is already closed between Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge.
The line is planned to be reopened completely on Saturday 20 February.
“Southeastern’s Train Services Director, Scott Brightwell, said: “By doing additional work at this time, Network Rail can reduce impact on our passengers who, above all, want safe and reliable journeys.
“We’ll make sure that changes to journey times and details of replacement bus services are well communicated through our website, National Rail Enquiries, and through our Twitter account @Se_Railway, so please check before you travel.”
Photo credit: Network Rail