Network Rail engineers will begin preparatory works this weekend at Bearsted in Kent, preparing the site for a multimillion pound cutting reinforcement project aimed at preventing railway landslips.
During the project, engineers will be reinforcing Bearsted cutting to prevent landslips, as well as improving drainage and signalling in the area.
For a nine-day period in August, rail replacement bus services will replace trains on the line between Maidstone East and Ashford International.
Alongside the week-long closure from August 7-15, 2021, there will also be additional closures on the line on July 3-4 and 24-25, 2021. No trains will be running on the line during each of these dates.
The cutting at Bearsted is more than 150 years old and requires ‘soil nailing’ - a type of strengthening - to make sure it remains safe and resilient. Over 2,000 of the 6,000+ required soil nails will be installed in the lower reaches of the cutting.
At the same time, engineers will take the opportunity to work on power supply feeder cabling between Harrietsham and Charing.
A number of other earthwork, drainage, track and signalling maintenance issues, including track realignment, rail grinding and reprofiling, and flood mitigation, will be carried out during the same closures.
Several stations on the line will also benefit from various maintenance works which can be implemented while they are closed, allowing Network Rail to make significant progress improving the route without future disruption.
Fiona Taylor, Network Rail Route Director for Kent, said: “Line closures are always a last resort for us because of the disruption they cause passengers, but are sometimes unavoidable.
“Extreme weather, as a result of climate change, is having a significant impact on our Victorian railway embankments.
“The works at Bearsted will make the cutting secure for a long time.
“We’re scheduling them to cause minimum disruption, when fewer people are using services, so that passengers will benefit from the works as soon as possible.”
Scott Brightwell, Train Services Director at Southeastern, added: “It’s vitally important that Network Rail carry out this essential work along this part of our route.
“Reducing the risk of landslips will really help to improve reliability for our passengers.”