Posted 26th February 2024 | 1 Comment

Monday briefing: Unstable earthworks block lines

Landslip disruption
Unstable earthworks are blocking or delaying train services between Twyford and Reading and between Rainham and Sittingbourne. Two of  the four running lines on the Great Western Main Line have been closed near Twyford because of the ‘state of some trees’ at the side of a cutting, believed to be Sonning, where unstable earth has been reported. Services are being delayed or cancelled because only two lines are open. Stopping trains are the worst affected, said GWR, which warned that the problem is ‘not easily resolved’. Meanwhile, Network Rail engineers discovered a 40 metre crack in an embankment at Newington on Friday night, and the line between Rainham and Sittingbourne will be closed for at least seven days while repairs are made. Southeastern said ‘limited’ bus services are running to replace trains.

Cash for northern transport
The Prime Minister is announcing a budget worth £4.7 billion for transport schemes outside big cities in the north of England, which he said will use money released by the cancellation of HS2 to Crewe and Manchester. Labour has criticised the announcement, which follows last autumn’s ‘Network North’ programme. Labour described it as a ‘back of a fag packet plan’ which included ‘reannouncements of projects they promised a decade ago’.

Disputes settled in London and Northern Ireland
Unite the union says it has reached agreement with London Underground over pay for its members. They have accepted a pay increase for 2023 of between 5.8 and 11 per cent, and the lowest paid grades are getting the largest rises. However, Unite has warned that ‘significant industrial issues’ remain, and that several other disputes are continuing with Transport for London. In Northern Ireland, a three-day strike by train and bus staff at Translink has been suspended after Unite, GMB and Siptu said they would put an improved pay offer to their members. The walkouts would have been staged tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday.

Go-Ahead Group denies sale report
The Go-Ahead Group, which possesses a majority share in several British passenger rail contracts including Govia Thameslink Railway, has denied a report that it could be up for sale. Canadian pension fund OPTrust has stakes in Go-Ahead’s owners, Australian Kinetic and Spanish Globalvia, and the Sunday Times claimed that OPTrust had hired investment bankers to explore a potential sale. The chief executives of Go-Ahead and its owners said the reports were ‘misleading’ and created an ’incorrect impression’.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Chris Jones-Bridger, Buckley Flintshire

    Given the government's repeated inability through the DfT to provide an up to date rail infrastructure investment strategy any announcement of investment funding is hard to take seriously. With no benchmark to refer to can we be assured that this is a genuine improvement in investment or just what would have been budgeted for.

    Also HS2 investment was never sold as being an either/or commitment. It was meant to be in addition to investment in the classic network.

    Unfortunately ever since the PM's unilateral cancellation of HS2 phase 2 there has been a scramble to spin the reallocation of investment to cover for short falls in transport spending over many years. Unfortunately for rail too much cash will now be lost to patching up potholed roads where that long term neglect in basic maintenance is most evident to the voting public. Then again the increasing prevalence of landslips affecting rail performance is a similarly affecting rail users.