NO TRAINS will be running west out of Salisbury due to strikes and a landslip affecting services. 

South Western Railway said the line from Salisbury to Exeter would be closed until Monday as heavy rain over the weekend led to flooding. 

Network Rail said its monitoring sensors detected ground movement of the earth on the cutting above the entrance to Crewkerne Tunnel on the line between Crewkerne and Yeovil Junction stations.

Matt Pocock, Network Rail Wessex route director, said: “I would like to say how sorry we are for the disruption passengers are experiencing following a landslip at Crewkerne tunnel.

Salisbury Journal: Crewkerne Tunnel landslip Crewkerne Tunnel landslip (Image: Network Rail)

“We’ve experienced over 90mm of sustained heavy rain over the past 48 hours and this has resulted in movement in the earth on the cutting above the tunnel entrance which, if action isn’t taken, could spill over onto the tracks and risk the safety of passenger services.

“Our team of engineers are already working extremely hard day and night and in all conditions to remove over 100 tonnes of debris and will be doing all they can so we can reopen the line and passengers can resume travelling on Monday morning.”

SEE ALSO: Stay up to date with our live blog - Updates as Salisbury trains cancelled due to landslide

ASLEF strike action is also taking place on the SWR network on Wednesday, December 6, meaning an extremely limited service running on a few lines and no services running all day west of Salisbury.

Network Rail and SWR are urging customers not to attempt to travel between Salisbury and Exeter until Monday, December 11 while work takes place. Flooding has also affected rail replacement buses. 

Pictures released by Network Rail show the landslip, which happened at Crewkerne Tunnel, has moved earth dangerously close to the line. 

Salisbury Journal: Crewkerne Tunnel landslip Crewkerne Tunnel landslip (Image: Network Rail)

Network Rail completed inspections on Monday, December 4 and early on Tuesday, December 5 to assess the situation before engineers began work using ropes to abseil down the cutting and start removing vegetation before beginning excavating debris.

Network Rail’s engineers will be excavating around 100 tonnes of clay, soil and vegetation from around the tunnel entrance to help stabilise the cutting.

Engineers are initially excavating by hand, lowering the debris to the track via chutes before it is transported away on an engineering train. A long-reach excavator will also be brought in and situated on top of the tunnel using an extra-long arm and bucket to help with the removal of the debris.

Steve Tyler, South Western Railway’s performance and planning director, said: “We’re really sorry that the emergency closure of Crewkerne tunnel means we won’t be able to serve stations between Salisbury and Exeter St David’s until Monday.

“We know how disruptive this is for customers in run up to Christmas, so our teams are examining potential ways to run an extremely limited service between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction via Westbury in the coming days. Please check our website for the latest updates.”

Elsewhere on the rail network, another landslip happened between Basingstoke and Woking, where Network Rail's sensors detected movement in a 100-metre-long slope next to the St John’s Hill Road overbridge between Brookwood and Woking in Surrey on December 3. 

Engineers also subsequently discovered structural defects on a footbridge between Brookwood and Woking. 

Urgent repairs were also underway after a cracked rail was discovered at Brockenhurst level crossing on December 4. This meant passengers were unable to travel between Bournemouth and Southampton while crews worked to replace 63ft of rail.