Wednesday, 8 Feb 2023

London to Basingstoke railway collapsed in landslide

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A major railway line between London and Basingstoke is expected to be closed for at least a week due to a “huge” landslide along the track. One track is now hanging in mid-air, with only two of the four tracks now able to be used by trains.

Both of the passable tracks are designated for London-bound trains only.

The 44-metre landslip occurred close to Hook station in Hampshire, with a number of stations, including Hook, Winchfield and Fleet, now inaccessible.

South Western Railway (SWR) has advised its customers to check the lines before they travel and to plan alternative transport for journeys to or from the south or west of Basingstoke to London in the coming days.

Those travelling on services between Bournemouth, Southampton, Weymouth, Salisbury, and Exeter, were advised against “all but essential travel”.

It is thought the disruption will last until the end of the day on January 22, according to the SWR website.

Other SWR services are operating at usual, but the rail company have warned passengers that those trains may be busier than usual.

Network Rail Wessex route director Mark Killick said: “This is a huge landslip and will have a massive effect on customers. The main line to Basingstoke is the spine of our railway and there will be knock-on impacts across the route.

“I can only apologise for the scale of the disruption and please ask that customers check before they travel this week, not just on the affected section, but all the way up the line to London Waterloo, where many of the trains that would use this section of railway start and finish their journeys.

“We’re still assessing the damage and it’s difficult to put a detailed timescale in place, but we know it’s going to be at least a week.

“We will need to stabilise the embankment, essentially stopping it moving, and then rebuild the railway where it has slid away.

“We’ll keep everyone informed of our progress and I can only say thank you to everyone for their patience and apologise again for the disruption.

“Please look out for further updates from South Western Railway on the revised timetable, once this has been able to be confirmed.”

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A Network Rail spokesperson said the embankment where the landslide happened is made of a mixture of London clay and other soils, and became saturated after heavy rainfall.

He said: “The slip happened when the soil gave way along a 44-metre section of 10m-high embankment, sliding out from underneath the tracks, in what engineers call a ‘rotational failure’.

“Network Rail and its suppliers are working on designs for the work needed to repair the railway, which will give a clearer idea of timescales.

“In addition, a train plan to provide journey options for customers on the route will be published as soon as possible.”

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