Engineers have been working night and day to repair a huge landslip at Hook in Hampshire and are targeting the 24th of February to reopen all four lines, Network Rail has announced today.
With train activity drastically reduced after the landslip, the infrastructure owner took the “unusual step” to reconfigure the track’s layout, moving it onto a stable part of the embankment to allow six trains to run per hour – significantly better than the one every 90 minutes that could run between Basingstoke and Woking prior.
This was only a temporary fix however, as, once the embankment is repaired, the engineers need to close the railway again to return the track to its original layout.
Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “We’d like to thank customers and residents living alongside the railway for their patience while we’ve carried out this major repair.
“Fixing the landslip at Hook has been an incredibly tough and complicated job. I’m so sorry our customers will have to endure more disruption before we can reopen all four lines. Unfortunately, there is no perfect solution, but this approach is the least disruptive to our customers overall.
“We’ve taken the difficult decision to carry out the track layout work over multiple nights because I recognise how important it is to provide a direct service to and from London and the south west, particularly as the Portsmouth Direct Line will be closed from the 11 to 19 of February as part of a multi-million-pound upgrade that has been planned for more than two years.
“It’s crucial this work goes ahead because customers wouldn’t see the benefits soon enough and it would cost taxpayers a fortune to reschedule and cause more disruptive closures in the future.”
The landslip took place on the 14th of January and left only two parts of the four-track railway passable. Such was the location of the landslip, the engineers had to build a 580-metre-long access road across the local fields to transport the materials and machinery necessary to complete the pairs to the site.
To insulate against future landslips, Network Rail engineers are also building a 60-metre retaining wall which will be made up of 100 12-metre-long ‘sheet piles’ which are affixed into the ground to stabilise the embankment.
Stuart Meek, South Western Railway’s chief operating officer, said: “The landslip at Hook has caused our customers significant disruption for more than three weeks now, so it is welcome news to hear we are a step closer to the embankment repairs being completed.
“To give Network Rail the time they need to realign the tracks, whilst also considering the large amount of engineering work across the rest of our network, we will need to make some changes to our late night and early morning services.
“We will confirm these alterations just as soon as we can. We’re very grateful for our customers’ continued patience through what has been a frustrating period of disruption.”
Due to the ongoing repair works, there is expected to be severe disruption during this timeframe with passengers advised to plan ahead.
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