Line to re-open next week - but delays continue

Network Rail contractors carry out work on the landslip site at Battle. 14/2/14
Network Rail contractors carry out work on the landslip site at Battle. 14/2/14

THE beleaguered Hastings to London railway line will fully re-open next week, it has been confirmed - but the delays are set to continue for a further week.

The line is currently closed between Battle and Wadhurst as urgent repair work is carried out, following a series of landslips at Battle, Whatlington and Stonegate.

Network Rail contractors have been working around the clock in a bid to repair the damage caused by the recent torrential rainfall.

The organisation says it is on target to re-open the line some time next week.

The news will be welcomed by commuters, who have had to put up with weeks of replacement bus services since the first section of track closed between Battle and Robertsbridge on February 4.

But train journeys between the coast and capital are likely to remain disrupted for a further week.

Engineers will continue to carry out work on the line after it re-opens.

To allow the main work to ‘bed down’, ‘severe’ speed restrictions will be in place for this period.

Chris Denham, spokesperson for Network Rail, told the Observer that the organisation was ‘confident’ the line would be ready for trains next week.

But he warned that further disruptions lay ahead.

Chris said: “When we do give the railway back, it won’t be normal service resumed and there will be quite severe speed restrictions. Journey times will be affected.

“The priority is to get people off buses and on to trains.”

Chris quashed rumours that the work would not be completed until May.

Usually Network Rail sees just two or three landslips a year on its Kent network, which includes the Sussex stations between Hastings and Frant.

Since the beginning of 2014, more than 40 incidents have been reported - 10 of these on the Hastings to Charing Cross line. It could cost Network Rail as much as £15million to fix all 40 sites.