Network Rail finishes landslip prevention project in Hastings

Over a hundred engineers have carried out landslip prevention work along the 160-year old Hastings route in the UK. This in order to prepare the route for more extreme weather as the result of climate change.

The railway in Hastings, in the South-East corner of the UK, is known for its susceptibility to landslip. For the works to prevent this, the railway had to be closed for a week. Trains returned on the line last weekend. “The line is one of the oldest in the country and we have been working hard to make it truly fit for the 21st century and resilient against the impacts of climate change”, said Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s Route Director for Kent.

Protecting the railway

The project forms part of a five-year programme of earthwork improvements to protect the railway from the impacts of climate change, of 138 million euros (117 million pounds). Over 40 million euros alone is being spend on the Hastings line in the current spending period. Steve White, Southeastern Managing Director of Network Rail: “Reducing the risk of landslips caused by bad weather helps us to deliver the reliable and punctual service that our customers deserve.”

Network Rail engineers have thousands of sensors set up on routes prone to landslips as part of an early warning system. The sensors at Wadhurst were already detecting movement, an early sign of a potential landslip.
Therefore, further soil strengthening will take place at Wadhurst over the next six months, without disruption to services. Work to strengthen other sites along the route is continuing and is expected to be completed by next summer.

The works

In Hastings, engineering projects were carried out at multiple locations, including both ends of Wadhurst Tunnel, Strawberry Hill, Churchsettle, Nevill Golf Club and Crowhurst. Embankments and cuttings were shored up using a variety of engineering approaches, from sheet piling, to soil nails and rock anchors.

With the week-long railway closing, Network Rail also took the opportunity to put down new track and carry out a series of station improvements, including vegetation clearance, repainting platform markings and deep cleans. BAM Nuttall, along with sub-contractors, carried out the works of the project.

Aiming to improve biodiversity along the line, diseased and non-native trees were replaced at various locations to make the habitat more friendly to native species. New platform tactiles were also installed at Etchingham station to aid the visually impaired, and a major refurbishment of the station footbridge continues through to mid-December.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor of RailTech.com

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