EMERGENCY work is taking place to repair a landslip on a railway line in Hillmorton, caused by heavy rainfall during Storm Christoph.
Specialist earthwork engineers from Network Rail have been closely measuring ground movements at Hillmorton Junction on the West Coast main line, after a train driver reported something unusual when travelling over the section of track.
All services are still running but are being diverted via Northampton, adding around 30 minutes onto journey times.
Ellen Wintle, infrastructure director for Network Rail’s West Coast South route, said: “The sheer amount of rain we’ve had recently has caused the ground to slip, so we’re working hard to stabilise the area and put our plan into action for the repairs.
“Because this landslip was spotted early we have controlled the damage which means repairs can be carried out whilst keeping services running on the other tracks and we can continue to provide a safe and reliable railway for passengers and freight customers.
“I thank passengers making essential journeys during this period of national lockdown for their patience. I’d urge them to check National Rail Enquiries before setting off on their journey while we make sure passengers get the service they deserve on this absolutely vital part of railway between Milton Keynes and Birmingham.”
Rugby Rail Users Group chair Stephanie Clifford visited the site of the repair work, in The Kent in Hillmorton.
She said: “This appears to be a serious problem, and large numbers of workers and equipment have been deployed to fix it.
“One of the staff commented that the work would take up to two-and-a-half weeks to complete – this is on the most important main line in the UK, so this is a major blockage.
“The repair work appears to consist of removing the trees, some of which are 40cm in diameter. The railway embankment will then be shored up with concrete, supported by fresh clean stone. We have seen this type of repair already at various points on the Rugby to London route, recently at Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire.
“This landslip has occurred during lockdown, a travel ban, and when train timetables have been slashed due to staff unavailability and reduced demand – meaning the effect on Rugby passengers will be very limited.
“However, it is perhaps surprising that the failure of such a key part of our nation’s infrastructure could happen without warning.”
Remedial work began on Wednesday January 27, and is expected to last for up to two-and-a-half weeks.
Passengers making essential journeys are being advised to check www.nationalrail.co.uk or with train operators Avanti West Coast and London Northwestern Railway.