Posted 6th December 2023 | No Comments

South Western main line blocked by landslip

Engineers have been abseiling down the side of a railway cutting in Somerset, after a landslip blocked the line between Salisbury and Exeter.

Network Rail and South Western Railway are warning passengers to avoid the route until Monday morning as a result of the slippage, which is at Crewkerne Tunnel.

Network Rail completed inspections late on Monday night, and yesterday engineers assessing the damage used ropes to abseil down the cutting and start removing vegetation before beginning to excavate the debris.

Network Rail engineers will work around the clock over the next few days to excavate around 100 tonnes of clay, soil and vegetation from around the tunnel entrance. to help stabilise the cutting.

Engineers are initially excavating by hand, lowering the debris to the track using chutes, before it’s taken away on an engineering train. A long reach excavator will also be brought in and placed on top of the tunnel using an extra-long arm and bucket to help with the removal of the debris.

To make matters worse, floods west of Salisbury have also made providing rail replacement buses difficult.

Network Rail Wessex route director Matt Pocock said: ‘I would like to say how sorry we are for the disruption passengers are experiencing following a landslip at Crewkerne tunnel.

‘We’ve experienced over 90mm of sustained heavy rain over the past 48 hours and this has resulted in movement in the earth on the cutting above the tunnel entrance which, if action isn’t taken, could spill over on to the tracks.

‘Our team of engineers are already working extremely hard day and night and in all conditions to remove over 100 tonnes of debris and will be doing all they can so we can reopen the line and passengers can resume travelling on Monday morning.’

South Western Railway’s performance and planning director Steve Tyler added: ‘We know how disruptive this is for customers in the run up to Christmas, so our teams are examining potential ways to run an extremely limited service between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction via Westbury in the coming days. Please check our website for the latest updates.’