HomeInfrastructureGeotechnicalWiltshire landslip closes railway

Wiltshire landslip closes railway

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A landslip has shut the railway between Guildford, Aldershot and Wokingham, near the hamlet of Wanborough.

The railway embankment near to Westwood Lane bridge began to slip following recent heavy rain and now requires urgent repairs. Network Rail is on site and aims to get trains running again by Wednesday, 6 January.

Currently, no South Western Railway trains are running on the line between Guildford and Farnham, and Great Western Railway services from Reading are terminating at Ash.

Network Rail will be stabilising the embankment near Westwood Lane bridge by sinking a wall of steel sheet piling into the ground, to prevent earth below the embankment from moving any further. Engineers will be employing the least obtrusive method of completing this work, in order to keep any noise as low as possible.

Derek Butcher, Network Rail.

Network Rail Southern region’s route asset manager for geotechnics, Derek Butcher, said: “The railway near Wanborough is built from clay, which is not a material we would build railways on these days, but our Victorian ancestors weren’t so advanced with their knowledge of soil mechanics.

“Clay absorbs water like a sponge and once it reaches saturation – where it can’t absorb any more – it loses its strength. In this case part of it has moved out from underneath the weight of the railway embankment, what we call a rotational failure, and the track has dipped down above it.”

The landslip is around 40 metres in length, and engineers will repair that first, allowing the railway to open. Work will then continue to extend the sheet pile wall to a full 80 metres to future-proof the site and stop any further slippage.

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