Thank you to passengers as Hastings line reopens following landslip prevention project

Hastings line

(News release Network Rail:) 2 November 2021 - Rail passengers are returning to the Hastings line following a seven-day closure that saw over a hundred engineers carrying out landslip prevention work along the 160-year old route. The line was handed back on time for the start of services on Saturday.

  • A week-long project to prevent landslips between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings has further reduced the risk of disruption as the industry works to win back customers.
  • Stations painted and cleaned, platform surfaces improved and biodiversity enhancements completed at five sites on the route.
  • Climate change-related extreme weather means continued monitoring and improvement of rail network required across the region

The work over the October half-term was spread along the line, with major engineering projects at multiple locations, including both ends of Wadhurst Tunnel, Strawberry Hill, Churchsettle, Nevill Golf Club and Crowhurst. Embankments and cuttings were shored up using a variety of engineering approaches, from sheet piling, to soil nails and rock anchors.

Closing a railway for a week is inconvenient for passengers but Network Rail took the opportunity to put down new track and carry out a series of station improvements, including vegetation clearance, repainting platform markings and deep cleans.

Crews  also installed new platform tactiles at Etchingham to aid the visually impaired and a major refurbishment of the station footbridge continues through to mid-December.

As part of a drive to improve biodiversity along the line, diseased and non-native trees have been replaced at various locations to make the habitat more friendly to native species.

Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s Route Director for Kent, said: ‘I’m really grateful to passengers for their patience while we’ve had the line closed for engineering works between Hastings and Tunbridge Wells. The line is one of the oldest in the country and we have been working hard to make it truly fit for the 21st century and resilient against the impacts of climate change.’

Steve White, Southeastern Managing Director, said: ‘Reducing the risk of landslips caused by bad weather helps us to deliver the reliable and punctual service that our customers deserve. I’d like to say a big thank you to our passengers for bearing with us and changing their travel plans while this essential work was carried out. I’m really pleased that the project was completed on time and our trains were running again as scheduled from Saturday.’

Gareth White, Operations Manager for BAM Nuttall, which carried out the works, said: ‘The works undertaken to stabilise the cutting at Wadhurst, and the completion of other necessary works on the line, are all part of our plans to make sure that we are putting the safety and wellbeing of passengers first. We are proud to be working alongside Network Rail and to have the support of our subcontractors, who helped us deliver this impressive milestone. We would also like to thank the residents in the vicinity for their understanding and patience during this time.’

Notes to Editors

  • To ensure the safety of passengers and to identify areas requiring work in future, Network Rail engineers have thousands of sensors set up on routes prone to landslips, to provide an early warning system. Sensors at Wadhurst were already detecting movement, an early sign of a potential landslip.
  • Further soil strengthening will take place at Wadhurst without disruption to services over the next six months. Work to strengthen other sites along the route is continuing and is expected to be completed by next summer.
  • The project forms part of a five-year £117m programme of earthwork improvements to protect the railway from the impacts of climate change. Over £35m alone is being spend on the Hastings line in the current spending period, renowned for its susceptibility to landslip.
  • The works were carried out by Network Rail’s Framework Contractors, BAM Nuttall.

Click here for the original news release.