A section of track near Barnehurst, Kent has been covered by earth and “significant works are required” to reopen the line, according to Network Rail. Southeastern Railway, which operates trains in the area, confirmed the Bexleyheath Line will be closed “at least until the weekend” to carry out repairs and warned even further work would be necessary. The affected track usually carries about a dozen trains per hour at peak commuter times into London Victoria, Charing Cross and Cannon Street.
The train operator said travellers using Bexleyheath, Barnehurst, Welling, Falconwood, Eltham and Kidbrooke stations should seek an alternative route into town at least until the weekend when it hoped to reopen the track.
Southeastern explained trains that normally operate on the Bexleyheath line will be cancelled or diverted via Sidcup or Woolwich.
The train company advised passengers to use replacement buses between Lewisham and Dartford via Bexleyheath and said tickets already purchased will be valid on London buses, the Tube and DLR.
The landslide occurred on a section of track which is below ground level, known as a cutting.
Network Rail blamed rain percolating down through layers of silt, gravel and clay saturating the soil and causing the landslip.
It said sensors installed in the earth notified technicians of the slip at 4am on Monday morning and an engineer was immediately dispatched to check the site.
A spokesman for Southeastern said: “Earlier this morning there was a landslip on a railway cutting between Barnehurst and Bexleyheath, resulting in 400 tonnes of debris and trees falling to the track.
“As a result, the line is blocked in both directions.
“Because of this, Network Rail have had to close the Bexleyheath Line between Blackheath and Barnehurst until at least the weekend to allow for repairs to take place.”
While one line is passable, Network Rail decided it was “unsafe” to run trains through the cutting.
The rail operator added it also needs to close the section of track adjacent to the affected line in order to carry out the emergency engineering work safely and quickly.
Engineers will use a technique called H piling to stop the landslide reoccurring which involves inserting H-shaped steel beams into the ground to build a wall that will prevent further slippage.
A spokesman for National Rail South East said: “Our engineers are on site assessing the situation.”
The spokesman added: “With landslips of this kind we cannot start work immediately for safety reasons as the fallen trees and mud are still moving.
“In this case, we were alerted at 4am this morning and a safety speed restriction was put in place.
“Now the landslip has stopped moving, the site is now safe for us to get on site and we’re starting work immediately, beginning with the clearance of the trees that have slipped and others that are now unstable.”
The line is expected to reopen at the weekend but further work to back-fill behind the wall will need to be done “later without impacting services”.
Published at Tue, 12 Feb 2019 00:21:00 +0000