Published: 19:21, 22 January 2021
| Updated: 19:34, 22 January 2021
Trains will not be able to run between Gillingham and Sittingbourne for two weeks as engineers tackle a 40-metre-long landslip which blocked a train line earlier this week.
The slip happened on a section of the railway which was built in 1858, where the line is cut 13m deep into the surrounding hill.
After days of heavy rain, the top section of the cutting side gave way and slowly slipped downhill towards the track. Over 300 tons of spoil was removed before the line could be reopened and there’s still more to go.
However, because of the size of the problem larger works will begin at the weekend with design work and staff and equipment mobilisation getting underway today.
The line will close from the last train on Saturday night (Jan 23) until Monday, February 8 and will also cause Thameslink trains from London to Rainham to to terminate one station earlier at Gillingham.
Bus replacement services will also be provided.
Network Rail’s route director for Kent Fiona Taylor said: “This has been a difficult week for passengers on the railway through Newington and I’m really sorry we’ve had to take this drastic action so soon after reopening it. We’ve kept trains safe throughout the week but we don’t want to cause any more disruption and the best way to achieve that is to close the railway and rebuild it.
“It’s not an easy decision but the scale of this problem means there’s no way of fixing it without stopping trains and the sooner we do that, the sooner this line can open safely again. I'd really like to thank our passengers for their patience in these difficult times.”
Southeastern train service director Scott Brightwell said: “There is never an ideal time to close the railway but this work by Network Rail is essential to ensure that this stretch of track can reopen for trains as soon as possible, allowing passengers’ journeys to continue without delay.
"We’ll make sure that changes to journey times and details of replacement bus services are well communicated through our website, National Rail Enquiries, and through our Twitter account @Se_Railway, so please check before you travel.”
The line is currently protected with a series of 1-ton bags of stone, which will be replaced with a 60 metre wall of 12m steel sheet piles, sunk into the ground.