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Strengthening Wadhurst tunnel so it's future proof  

Seven-day closure affecting train services between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings (23 – 29 October 2021, inclusive)  

Aerial view of Wadhurst tunnel

From Saturday 23 to Friday 29 October 2021 inclusive, train services between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings will be affected as Network Rail engineers use this time to strengthen the railway cutting at Wadhurst tunnel and carry out a number of other improvement projects.  

The work at Wadhurst will help to prevent landslips in the area and therefore reduce disruption and delays to trains running on the line.   

Passengers are advised to plan ahead for this major work. Travel information, including details of rail replacement bus services and ticket acceptance on other routes, will be made available by the train operator Southeastern as soon as possible.  

Key dates 

  • Saturday 23 to Friday 29 October 2021- Main line closure 
  • Autumn half-term 2022 – Dates to be confirmed 

What the work will involve 

Work includes: 

  • Stabilising the railway cutting at Wadhurst tunnel portal by clearing vegetation and installing soil nails on the cutting face. 
  • Geotechnical work on a number of other sites along the route, including at Strawberry Hill, Churchsettle, Crowhurst, Nevill Golf Club embankment. 
  • To provide additional benefits to passengers Network Rail will also be looking at options to carry out other maintenance work at stations when they are closed during the blockade. 


The steep cutting was dug more than 170 years ago and has suffered from several landslips in recent years, causing significant disruption to passengers on this key line of route between the coast and central London. The stabilisation work will mean more reliable train services between the capital and Hastings and is expected to be secure with a lifespan of at least 60 years. 

  • Reduced risk of landslips on the line – In the past decade alone, engineers have visited Wadhurst tunnel on numerous occasions to secure the railway and install temporary fixes to weather-related movements. This seven-day blockade during October half-term means engineers can get in to strengthen the cutting, making it as secure as possible. 
  • Less overall disruption to passengers and the benefits delivered sooner – This work bank was also considered as taking place over multiple weekends which would have meant more disruption to both passengers and residents. 

By doing the work over a concentrated period of seven consecutive days, the overall disruption to passengers can be significantly reduced, while fast-tracking the delivery of the reliability and safety benefits of the project.  

Better, more reliable journeys – This essential work will help reduce the number of delays in the long term and therefore improve passenger journeys. 

Passenger disruption 

The work requires the line between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings to be closed for seven days. The closure has been carefully planned to coincide with the October school half-term, when passenger numbers are lower, and some people may be able to be more flexible with their travel plans. There should also be more buses available for rail replacement services during this time. 

Passengers wishing to travel on these dates will need to allow considerably more time for their journeys and should expect to use rail replacement bus or coach services. 

We are working to ensure people have as many alternative options as possible over the closures and will confirm detailed travel arrangements as soon as these are made available. For more information, visit Southeastern Railway

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