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Network Rail and Thames Water argue over Thameslink flooding

Thames Water and Network Rail blame each other for the continuing disruption on Thameslink following the flooding from a burst water main near Farringdon on Friday.

Network Rail released a statement yesterday saying Thames Water “faces a multi-million pound bill” for the burst water main and several other leaks from other water pipes since Friday evening.

Phil Verster, Network Rail's route managing director, added that passengers had suffered, and the extent of the flooding had made it unsafe to run normal through-services between St Pancras and Blackfriars since Sunday. He said: “We have several high-output pumps operating, but the service is still hugely delayed. We expect Thames Water to reimburse passengers, train operators and Network Rail for the significant consequences of these water leaks.”

However Thames Water today hit back, telling RTM that it was Network Rail’s fault, with a lack of maintenance on its surface drainage system – a problem dating back to 2007.

Thames Water director Bob Collington said: “The water in the tunnel cleared as soon as we cleaned out Network Rail’s surface drainage system last night. The pipe was full of silt and debris, and a grill which would have allowed the water to drain away was blocked solid. Basically, the water had nowhere to go.

“We believe this problem was first identified as far back as 2007, and the problems with water on the track have been caused by a lack of maintenance on their part.”

Grill Farringdon 1
(A picture of the blocked drainage grill supplied by Thames Water)

He added that Thames Water will be presenting their findings to Network Rail as part of a full investigation into what caused the disruption to passengers. The companies are due to meet in Derby on Tuesday.

RTM contacted Network Rail regarding the Thames Water accusations but they refused to comment, saying their focus was on ending the disruption and getting services running.

The disruption started last Friday when a burst water main near Farringdon flooded the railway tunnels between Farringdon and St Pancras. Thames Water attempted to fix the main, but the leak continued to flood the tunnels throughout Saturday and into Sunday.

Severe disruption has continued all week and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Network Rail once again had to close the rail route between St Pancras and Farringdon last night.

Over 1,000 trains have been cancelled since the first main burst on Friday with a further 133 hours of combined delays to those trains which have been running. People make up to 200,000 journeys on Thameslink every weekday.

Since the first water main burst on Friday, Thames Water has found a further four leaks. Although these are said to be fixed, water is still coming into the tunnel.

National Rail Enquiries’ latest update says: “Until at least the end of service on Thursday 29 January there will be no service between London St Pancras International and Farringdon. There is no firm estimate yet of how long disruption will last.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


Neil Palmer   30/01/2015 at 04:39

Thames Water is right to pass the blame back to Network Rail. Water mains are going to burst, but if Network Rail had looked after its infrastructure better (really, this was reported back in 2007 and NOT addressed?) the water would have drained away harmlessly. it looks like Network Rail has been caught yet again with failing to do basic common "housekeeping" type tasks like cleaning your drains. The same kind of sloppy housekeeping causing untold damage to bridges, embankments & walls when they fail to take care of weeds and trees growing too close to the track. "Leaf fall" season wouldn't be much of a problem either if they took care of the lineside, something that was common practice in the "old" days. The same can be said for a lot of the unsightly mess and garbage left around at worksites when a job is finished. Simply sloppy, untidy, penny-pinching behaviour and it has come back to bite them where it hurts.

Wise Engineer   30/01/2015 at 13:54

I thought NR had an asset condition register that was populated with drainage assets and their condition. Is maintenance not planned anymore? Why has ORR not enforced that in place of making headlines about delays. Surely track circuit faults would have been occurring if the drainage was blocked since 2007, in turn leading to investigations and subsequent remedial action. My Drain Train has been available for years, or is preventative activity beyond the wit of the incumbent bean counters who know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing. The ghost of tricky Dicky Middleton is alive and well. He banished drainage maintenance in the 1970's, seen as irrelevant.

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