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Round the clock work at Sussex and Hamsphire landslips

Network Rail engineers shouldfinish rebuilding three collapsed sections of railway in Sussex by Monday, March 3.

There has been a month of disruption and bus replacement on the line from Hastings to Tonbridge, primarily the Wadhurstto Battle section, after the landslips at Stonegate, Whatlington and Battle.

Network Rail has almost finished repairing the damage after “four weeks of round-the-clock working” it said. There will be speed restrictions in place at first to monitor the repaired track.

Network Rail’s route managing director, Fiona Taylor, said: “This has been a very difficult time for passengers on the Hastings line and we understand the need to get trains running safely again as soon as possible.

“We have now restored the track across the most serious of the landslips, at Stonegate, after delivering more than 10,000 tons of stone to repair the damage, and by Monday Southeastern will be able to get their trains running again across all three repaired slips.

“It has been a huge effort from our dedicated engineers and contractors, in often atrocious conditions, and my thanks go to them and to the passengers for their patience. I’m also aware of the efforts made by Southeastern’sstaff, who have kept passengers informed through the disruption.

“There will need to be more work on the route in the coming months, although very much less disruptive, as we get to grips with the remaining damage at other locations.”

Michelle Ulyatt, customer relations manager at Southeastern, said: “We’re pleased that the line between Hastings and Tonbridge will reopen on Monday following the repairs that Network Rail has carried out. It’s good news for everyone on the route and we’d like to thank our passengers for their patience. Thanks also go to our staff, who have worked so hard in the interests of customers during the repairs.”

In Hampshire, which saw “one of the worst landslips ever seen on the network” at Botley, plus two others nearby, work is underway to completely rebuild 80m of railway. A team of 100 engineers from Network Rail and contractor Osborne are working round the clock towards getting trains running again in mid-March.

Rail minister Stephen Hammond visited the site this week to see the damage. He said: “The work Network Rail has been carrying out to reopen the line around Botley by mid-March has been impressive. They undertook a massive engineering task just to prepare the site before they could start dealing with three separate landslips along one mile of track. Lessons are being learned from the extreme weather and I've asked Network Rail to examine how the network can be made more resilient in future.”

Commercial director for the SWT-Network Rail Alliance, Sam McCarthy, said: “This is a huge project and we were pleased to be able to provide the transport minister with an opportunity to see first hand some of the extensive work being completed by our engineering teams.

“We are very proud of the work being done by our teams to restore this vital link for passengers. There is still a lot to be done before we can resume our services, but with work progressing well and on schedule, we expect to be able to reopen the line by mid March.”

Explaining the engineering works, Network Rail said: “The largest slip site near Botley saw an 80m long and 15m high length of embankment fail. When it was originally constructed in the 1840s, the engineers built the earthworks out of whatever material they could find locally, which was a mixture of clay, sand and silt. Persistent heavy rainfall during the wettest winter in 250 years caused the embankment to become unstable, ultimately suffering what engineers call a rotational failure, where the land to the south of the line raised up, as the embankment sunk down. It is now being completely dug out and replaced with new material, supported by a 100m wall of sheet piles which have been sunk into the ground along both sides and tied together with steel rods.”

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