Line to re-open next week but delays continue

The landslip at Stonegate
The landslip at Stonegate

THE beleaguered Hastings to London railway line will re-open next week, it has been confirmed - but the delays are set to continue.

The line is currently closed between Battle and Wadhurst as urgent repair work is carried out, following landslips at Battle, Whatlington and Stonegate.

Network Rail contractors have been working around the clock in a bid to repair the damage caused by the recent torrential rainfall. The organisation says it is on target to re-open the line some time next week.

The news will be welcomed by commuters, who have had to put up with weeks of replacement bus services since the first section of track closed between Battle and Robertsbridge on February 4.

But train journeys between the coast and capital are likely to remain disrupted for a number of weeks to come. Engineers will continue to carry out work on the line after it re-opens. To ensure the safety of the workers, ‘severe’ speed restrictions will be in place.

Chris Denham, spokesman for Network Rail, told the Observer that the organisation was ‘confident’ the line would be ready for trains next week.

But he warned that further disruptions lay ahead. Mr Denham said: “When we do give the railway back, it won’t be normal service resumed and there will be quite severe speed restrictions. Journey times will be affected.

“The priority is to get people off buses and on to trains.”

He added that there was ‘no target date’ for the completion on the work.

But Mr Denham quashed rumours that the work would not be completed until May.

Usually Network Rail sees just two or three landslips a year on its Kent network, which includes the Sussex stations between Hastings and Frant.

But since the beginning of 2014, more than 40 incidents have been reported.

It could cost Network Rail as much as £15 million to fix all 40 sites.

See the story on page 17 on Cllr Jeremy Birch’s calls for a full survey on the line to be carried out.