Travellers have been warned of major disruption on the mainline between Basingstoke and London following a “huge” landslip.
In an incident that will cause delays and cancellations for commuters on Monday morning (16 January), a 44-metre section of embankment has collapsed leaving just two out of four sets of railway tracks passable. It has happened close to the town of Hook, Hampshire.
It comes after heavy rain has caused flooding in several parts of the country, with dozens of alerts in place along the south coast, in the West Midlands and some parts of Northern England. One such alert is in place along the River Blackwater and The Cove Brook in Hampshire, close to where the landslip has occurred.
Wet weather is set to turn into freezing conditions over the course of the next few days, with the Met Office warning ice is likely to disrupt much of the UK until Wednesday (18 January), and a yellow warning for snow in place across the South East on Monday (16 January).
What’s the latest on Hampshire landslip?
According to Network Rail, a 44-metre section of a 10-metre high embankment that has train tracks running over the top of it has fallen away. Pictures from the scene show a section of track hanging in mid-air.
The incident has happened to the North East of Hook, Hampshire. The area is part of the London commuter belt, with the railway line providing a key link for those travelling from Basingstoke, as well as Southampton and Salisbury, to London Waterloo.
Network Rail, which owns and manages the UK’s rail infrastructure, said the embankment had collapsed after becoming saturated following recent heavy rainfall. It added that it expects the section of track may not be restored for a week, but said it will keep customers updated.
The only usable tracks are for London-bound trains only. South Western Railway is advising customers to check the status of the line before travelling, and to make alternative travel arrangements where possible.
What have train companies said?
Speaking to PA news agency, Network Rail’s Wessex route director Mark Killick apologised for the disruption rail passengers are now likely to face over the coming days.
“This is a huge landslip and will have a massive effect on customers. The main line to Basingstoke is the spine of our railway and there will be knock-on impacts across the route,” he said.
“I can only apologise for the scale of the disruption and please ask that customers check before they travel this week, not just on the affected section, but all the way up the line to London Waterloo, where many of the trains that would use this section of railway start and finish their journeys.
“We’re still assessing the damage and it’s difficult to put a detailed timescale in place, but we know it’s going to be at least a week. We will need to stabilise the embankment, essentially stopping it moving, and then rebuild the railway where it has slid away.”
Mr Killick added that Network Rail would “keep everyone informed of our progress” and thanked the general public for its patience. He also said that South Western Railway would be publishing a revised timetable in due course.