Five-day rail closure announced between Axminster, Honiton and Pinhoe for £5million of work to take place

A five-day line closure between Axminster, Honiton and Pinhoe in September has been announced by Network Rail so that £5million of ‘delay-busting’ schemes can take place.

They include landslip prevention work at Honiton Tunnel – described as ‘one of the most at-risk sites in the south of England’.

The stretch of the West of England Line affected also passes through Cranbrook, Whimple and Feniton.

Tunnel upgrades and anti-flood work will be carried out between Monday, September 19, and Friday September 23, with the closure allowing workers uninterrupted access to the railway.

East Devon District Council will also use the opportunity to complete a project to protect 65 homes in Feniton from flooding.

Network Rail’s Mark Killick said: “While we have tiny electronic sensors in the ground at Honiton Tunnel to monitor any movement so we can keep our passengers safe, it’s incredibly important that we carry out these works to stabilise the earth so we can prevent future landslips and lengthy disruption.”

A pair of retaining walls – 32 metres and 16 metres in length – will be installed along with sheet piles to protect the line from lengthy closures caused by landslips.

Engineers will also carry out vital track maintenance to ‘give customers a more reliable train service’.

Existing drainage systems will be improved and a new one installed.

Mr Killick added: “By doing the work over five days means we can avoid a series of back-to-back weekend closures which would be even more disruptive, plus we can take advantage of the extended access to complete other upgrades and vital track maintenance.

“The West of England Line is a key part of the railway on Southern region so it’s vital we continue to invest to give our customers the reliable service they deserve.

South Western Railway (SWR) commercial director Peter Williams said: “The upgrades that Network Rail is carrying out will significantly boost the reliability and resilience of a vital part of our network.

“Customers intending to travel from Monday until Friday should check before they travel and make use of the alternative transport options which have been provided.

“We recognise the decision to close the line for an entire working week will have a significant impact on those who use the line, but this will avoid a more protracted series of closures instead.

“We would like to thank those affected customers for their patience and understanding as this important modernisation work is carried out.”

Buses will replace SWR services from Axminster to Exeter St David’s.

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