Network Rail will close the railway between Kidbrooke and Barnehurst during the February half term next year to carry out major work that will protect passengers from disruption caused by landslips.
After four landslips in the past decade – the most recent in February this year, blocking the line for seven days – we’re investing £6.6 million to provide a safe solution on this section of the railway that will last 120 years.
The work involves removing 2,500 tonnes of mud and trees so engineers can reduce the steepness of the cutting slopes, which are prone to landslips during long periods of wet weather.
Engineers will also bring in another 8,000 tonnes of material, such as gravel and concrete, to build retaining walls along both sides of the cutting, stretching 650 metres.
The walls are made from steel beams, which are vibrated and driven into the ground six metres deep and then finished with huge concrete blocks and will stop any future landslips from reaching the tracks.
To make the most of the closure, Network Rail and Southeastern will also bring forward other infrastructure improvements in the area, as well as essential maintenance at the affected stations.
This will not only reduce the amount of engineering works in the future but give passengers the reliability benefits much sooner.
Dan Athol, programme director for Network Rail, said:
“The risk of another landslip on the line is very high and we need to take action as soon as possible.
“We know it’s never a good time to close the railway, but a longer 9-day blockade during the half term when it’s typically quieter means we can minimise disruption to passengers. The alternative would be many weekend closures over a two-year period, which is not only slow and inefficient but prolongs the risk of landslips and unplanned disruption to passengers.
“We’re working closely with Southeastern to make people aware of the impact on their journeys and the alternative options available and will use the time the railway is closed to bring forward other important work.”
Ellie Burrows, Train Services Director for Southeastern said:
“Above all, our passengers on the Bexleyheath line through Barnehurst want a safe and reliable service, and this vital work being undertaken by Network Rail will protect this stretch of track for the future.
“It’s never ideal to have to close the railway, but working with Network Rail we have a clear plan for diverting trains on to different routes as well as putting in place replacement bus services to ensure that our passengers can get to where they need to.”
Keeping passengers moving during the closures
The Woolwich and Sidcup lines and the Charlton to Blackheath link will remain open. Capacity on alternative routes will be increased by running additional or longer trains. Rail replacement bus services will be available and tickets will also be accepted on all other reasonable routes.
More detailed information on the exact times of additional services and bus replacements will be available nearer the proposed closures.
A large-scale passenger awareness campaign, in conjunction with Southeastern and Thameslink will ensure people are fully aware of the closures, the impact on journeys, the alternative travel options available to them and the benefits the work will bring to south east London.