Network Rail and engineers from contractor BAM Nuttall have begun work to repair a remote landslip in the South East of England.
The railway has been cut in half since 22 December after the incident between Edenbridge and Godstone on the Redhill-Tonbridge railway.
A train driver had noticed the track starting to dip on a 12m-high embankment that carries the railway over the Eden Valley.
The slip is one of the largest the railway of the South East has faced in many years and it has taken several weeks to plan a response.
Fiona Taylor, Network Rail's route director for Kent, said: “This landslip is a serious challenge for us, not just because of the scale of the slide but also the remoteness of the location.
“To give you some idea of the size of the slip, we are having to bring 40,000 tonnes of stone in from as far away as Carlisle to build the bank back up again and we’ve had to cut through the remaining part of the railway just to gain access to it.
“Our passengers have been very patient with us and we are doing everything we can to speed this project along and working 24/7 to get the railway open. Once we have an exact date we will let everyone know and if we can achieve that earlier than the end of March then we will.”
To get access to the slip, engineers have built a road across a field and cut a section of the embankment out, while building a temporary bridge to carry vital cables over the gap.
About 40 trains are being planned to bring 40,000 tonnes of recycled railway ballast to site – the weight of almost 100 Jumbo Jets – as the local roads are too narrow to allow lorries access.
While that work is going on, Network Rail is working on plans to reinforce the longer, 400m section of railway that crosses the Eden Valley at this location, to stop any future slips. This work will continue without affecting trains.
The landslip followed a month of rain in one week, on already saturated ground. This winter has seen a total of six months rain in the space of three months.
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