Network Rail is advising passengers about upcoming work taking place near Tunbridge Wells over the October Half Term.
The work will take place on a section of track between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings, with the Victorian built Wadhurst Tunnel being the main focus. The tunnel’s steep-sided entrances have been impacted by extreme rainfall and subsidence over recent years being noted for landslips. Engineers have visited the site many times over the past ten years following weather-related incidents, with the need to install temporary fixes to make the railway safe for use.
The essential maintenance work being carried out in October will strengthen the area, making it more stable for the future. The work will see soil nails driven into the cutting face at both ends of the tunnel, which will hold the earthworks fast. A project with similar issues has recently been successfully completed at Bearsted in Kent.
To keep overall disruption to passengers to an absolute minimum, the project has been condensed to take place over a period of 7 continual days. This also means that the work can be carried out efficiently, reliably and safely.
During the line, closure engineers will also work on a number of other sites along the route which include Strawberry Hill, Churchsettle, Telham Road Cutting and Nevill Gold Club Embankment. Network Rail will also take the opportunity to undertake maintenance work at stations whilst the line is closed.
The project will commence during the autumn half term and run from Saturday the 23rd to Friday the 29th of October 2021 and will mean that no trains can run between the stations.
Rail replacement services will be in place and passengers are also being asked to check their travel plans ahead with either Southeastern or National Rail Enquiry websites before making their journey.
Bob Coulson, Network Rail infrastructure director for Kent route, said: “The steep cutting at Wadhurst was dug more than 170 years ago and has suffered from a number of landslips in recent years, causing significant disruption to passengers on this key route between the coast and central London.
“These stabilisation works are vital for us and Southeastern to provide more reliable train services and by doing this work in one block, we will avoid having to close the line countless weekends in future. We’re rebuilding our railway for the future and it’s clear that closing the railway on weekends – when it’s now at its busiest – is not the right way forward.
“We’ll also be tackling other vulnerable sites on the line over the seven days the route is closed, to make the best use we can of the opportunity.”
Scott Brightwell, Train Services Director at Southeastern, said: “This essential work will help reduce the number of delays in the long term and therefore improve passenger journeys.
“We’d ask that our passengers wishing to travel on these dates allow considerably more time for their journeys which will involve accessible rail replacement buses and coaches.
“We’re working to ensure people have as many alternative options as possible during the closures”
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