Pic Credit: Network Rail

Network Rail engineers in Kent and East Sussex are preparing for a bank holiday weekend of major engineering on the Hastings to Tonbridge line, to continue in their fight to protect the railway from landslips.

The work will take place on a variety of sites, most notably Bearhurst, near Stonegate station, and will mean buses will replace trains between Tunbridge Wells and Battle.

The work, which takes place over three days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, 2 April and 4 April, follows a two-week closure of the line in January and February, when landslips blocked the route near High Brooms. That closure also included remedial work to take place at Wadhurst, where remote condition monitoring sensors were detecting movement in a vulnerable cutting.

In line with Government guidance, passengers are urged to minimise travel over the Easter bank holiday. Those who do need to travel by rail over this period are urged to plan ahead and check whether their route is affected by the upgrade works taking place.

Network Rail Kent route director Fiona Taylor said: “I know a lot of people will be wondering why we’re doing this work over Easter when we’ve only just reopened the line. We did as much as we could during February’s emergency closure, but this route has had more than its fair share of landslips in the past few years and it is vital we keep up the pace with our works to improve the resilience of the line and to shore up our earthworks.

“We couldn’t speed this job up any more and Easter is the best and earliest time we could do it, with the least disruption. 

“Like most people, I find it hard to believe we’re coming up for a year living with COVID. In that time, we’ve kept working hard across South East London and Kent, alongside running a train service for essential workers, and I’d like to say thank you to everyone for their patience this year and especially to passengers on the Hastings line.”

Scott Brightwell, Train Services Director at Southeastern, said: “I want to thank our passengers again for their patience while Network Rail engineers have been working hard to resolve the recent issues along this part of our network. We want to have full confidence that our trains can run safely along the line and this project over Easter is another important step in preventing any future landslips. There will be regular replacement buses running between Battle and Tunbridge Wells from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, before trains start again on Easter Monday.”

Among the other big changes coming in South East London and Kent this Easter are a major bridge replacement at Dartford station, meaning no trains London-bound from the Kent hub, bridge maintenance between Charing Cross and London Bridge, track improvement work between Hither Green and Petts Wood, and track work on the Catford Loop too. The bridge work at Dartford promises to be a spectacle as the landmark bridge over Hythe Road in the town is craned out and replaced.

The investment in the region this Easter is part of the £1.25Billion South East Upgrade – a plan to build a better railway for passengers in South East London and Kent. Find out more here: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/our-routes/kent/kent-and-south-east-london-railway-upgrade-plan/