Rare sink hole on Cumbrian coast railway

A sink hole on the railway is disrupting train services between Whitehaven and Workington on the Cumbrian coast.

Network Rail engineers are working to repair and make safe the section of line after the mysterious void appeared yesterday in the wake of Storm Eleanor at the village of Harrington.

Phil James, head of operations for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “Sink holes are very unusual on the railway. We are trying to work out whether this one been caused by a collapsed culvert or sea erosion or both. Either way, we’ve got a big hole right by the tracks that we need to fill in.

“We’re having to run trains on one rather than two lines along his stretch while we make our repairs. We aim to have things back to normal by Sunday.

“In theory running the railway is simple. But in practice, when you throw storms, wind, waves and sink holes into the mix, it gets more complicated.”

The Harrington sink hole, which was spotted by Network Rail staff working in the area, is around 2ft wide and 4ft deep. Engineers say the ground around it appears to be shifting. Sink holes are rare on the railway. Across Britain there have been 50 in the past 12 years, according to Network Rail records.