Updated: Bexleyheath Line to re-open first thing on Friday morning

A second landslide occured near Barnehurst Station last night which has caused the Bexleyheath railway line to be closed again. I am liaising with Southeastern and Network Rail about this issue. This page will be updated with correspondence from them both as it is received.


Compensation for commuters

7. Notification of second landslip from Network Rail

I have just come off a call with my team and I was keen to inform you as soon as I could that the Railway will not be open tomorrow as planned due to the challenges we are facing as a result of the landslip. The work has progressed slower than hoped later today owing to the instability of the earthworks and we are also having to hand dig around signal cables which is slower. Also unfortunately this evening when a locomotive was moved there was a further slip of the bank onto the troughing route which has preventing signalling cables being pulled out. We are now working on that activity and the remaining earthworks.

I am sorry for the continued delays to your constituents and we are doing all we can to get the railways open again. We have engaged this evening with Southeastern to ensure full communications are provided tomorrow morning and my team will also update you tomorrow as our works progress.

6. Email from Southeastern regarding cancellations and Cannon Street on Weenesday

Firstly, we want to apologise for Cannon Street station being very busy last night. However, we did not have to evacuate or put in place our crowd control measures. Whilst the station may have been uncomfortable, it is a small station concourse and it does not take much in the way of delay for it to get congested.

Yesterday evening between 16:00 and 20:00 there were 10 cancelled services and approximately 20 part-alterations, so the station was busy. On top of this, at 18:14 we had to close two platforms for 40 minutes whilst a water leak was fixed in the building above.

It is also worth noting that Cannon Street station is operationally run by Southeastern, and Network Rail is the overseeing landlord. The Southeastern station manager, Gavin Smith, is leading a full investigation into how the station performed.

5. Response from Network Rail

Last night just before 10pm a passenger service heading from Victoria to Dartford came across a landslip just before reaching Barnehurst. Approximately 200 tonnes of trees, soil and debris were covering one of the lines and the landslip continued to move for several hours. Engineers are on site and will continue to assess the situation, as the landslip damaged tracks and also dislodged signalling equipment, which will need to be repaired before trains can run.

Network Rail has an extreme weather process to help us, where possible, prevent earthwork failure and mitigate its impact on train services and passengers. This is a three tier process, where if rainfall within a 24 hour period exceeds either 20mm, 30mm or 50mm an automatic response kicks in. But the rainfall in the past week at Barnehurst has not exceeded these markers.

The issue at Barnehurst is fundamentally a geological problem, where the material of the cutting is susceptible to slippage after heavy rainfall. This slippage has occurred at three sites previously along this cutting, with the most recent being in January 2014. But this morning’s landslip is not related to repair work from previous incidents, and is in a different location on the London side of the track. This is because every time there is a failure, Network Rail check the cutting for other areas of weakness, and we would be happy to send though further information on our visual inspection data.

Engineers from Network Rail and its contractor Costain have been on site since this morning and have been working through the day and night to clear the debris and plan repairs. We now have a plan in place to bring the railway back into use in time for rush hour on Thursday morning, and meanwhile we are working to stabilise the sides of the railway and stop any further landslips. The pictures attached show the challenges we face in operating our Victorian railway while we deal with the challenges climate change poses.

In terms of communicating the challenges we face to passengers, Southeastern are putting up posters at affected stations, including London terminals, to advise of the time it will take to return to normal service. The information screens at stations will also reflect this, and include an image from site. We have also ensured that National Rail Enquiries have full information available online on their website.

Once again Network Rail would like to apologise for the disruption caused to passengers.

4. Response 2 from Southeastern

We are currently running the best service we can with the track capacity available to us. l will flag up you suggestion with the train planners but the landslip has affected the line as far as Lewisham

In terms of passenger communications staff were briefed and station staff should have had relevant information at the start of service. If there were gaps could you please ask constituents who have raised this with you to contact me direct with details and l’ll take this up with the station manager as the information was available.

3. Response from Southeastern

I am sorry if you were not notified earlier. We were first advised at approximately 2230 last night, a media alert was sent out in the early hours of this morning, and stakeholders were notified at the start of business today. Before start of service the necessary arrangements were made with TfL for ticket acceptance, our website was updated, the twitter team notified and staff were briefed. I accept that there may have been gaps in the communication process, but given the short space of time available to make these arrangements we did the best we could under the circumstances.

Replacement bus services are in operation between affected stations and if you have received negative feedback, please let me know.

Again, we are very sorry for the disruption, but you will understand that this situation is outside Southeastern ‘s direct control.

We and Network Rail would be happy to brief you further if you would find this helpful.

2. Interim Reply from Network Rail

This is a small cutting collapse caused by the heavy rain, but it will take a while to fix as the fall is still moving. Alasdair will provide you details.

As you are probably aware the network is suffering significant damage at the moment. The West Coast Main Line is closed north of Carlisle because of a bridge foundations being washed away. The Newcastle to Carlisle line is closed because of a huge landslip. The Dover to Folkestone line is closed because the sea wall is collapsing. And there have been dozens of cases of flooded lines over the last three weeks – at the same time that we successfully delivered the largest ever programme of Christmas upgrades. The challenge posed by increasingly extreme weather is something we need to address.

I appreciate the the sort of disruption caused by this latest fall is extremely frustrating to passengers. But I hope that the TOC will be providing a good temporary bus service while our team make the line safe.

1. Email newsletter from Southeastern

As you may know late night a landslip blocked the line at Barnehurst and I’m afraid the line is blocked. Network Rail is currently on site and Paul Rutter, Network Rail’s area director for Kent will brief us once his team has assessed the situation..

Passengers are advised to use lines from Dartford to Lewisham via Sidcup or Greenwich, a bus replacement service is in place and London buses are accepting tickets on the route. Tickets may also be used on DLR services.

Passengers whose journeys are delayed by 30 minutes or more are entitled to compensation.

We are very sorry for the disruption to journeys and are working with Network Rail to have the line open as soon as possible.

In the interim, we are advising passengers to check before they travel via live running information on our website and to follow us on twittter for ther latest updates.

We apologise to all rail users affected by the line closure but you will appreciate that the situation is outside our direct control.