Wakefield railway line reopened after landslip caused seven weeks of cancellations - engineers found 'voids' beneath track during repairs

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A Wakefield district railway line has been reopened more than seven weeks after a landslip.

The line between Knottingley and Pontefract Monkhill has reopened this morning (Monday, April 29) following seven weeks of work by Network Rail engineers to rebuild an embankment after it slipped in early-March.

More than 2,000 tonnes of stone has been installed along with a new 30m retaining wall structure to strengthen the land. 60 metres of track has been removed and replaced, with engineers also carrying out signalling and telecommunications work.

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Jason Hamilton, route director for Network Rail’s north and east route, said: “I want to say a huge thank you to our passengers and lineside neighbours for their understanding, patience, and acceptance during the disruption they have faced and of the need to work around-the-clock close to their homes.

Work to repair the landslip at Knottingley stationWork to repair the landslip at Knottingley station
Work to repair the landslip at Knottingley station

“I’m delighted that we have completed this major repair work so that the people of Knottingley and the surrounding areas can once again travel freely by train.

“Our engineers have worked incredibly hard over the last seven weeks to carry out this work as quickly and as safely as possible and I want to thank them, also, for their dedication and work ethic.

“We will continue to monitor the embankment to make sure trains can continue to pass safely through the area."

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The landslip is believed to have been caused by the recent prolonged period of wet weather.

However, during investigations, minor voids were discovered beneath the railway embankment that are believed to relate to historic mineral mining in the area.

This meant that the work to reopen the line has taken longer and has been more complex to complete.

Extensive work has since been carried out to fill the voids while engineers have also worked to reinstate the railway infrastructure above to allow the line to be reopened.

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Engineers will continue to monitor the embankment to make sure that the land remains safe for trains to run over, with a temporary speed restriction in place through the area.

A rail replacement service has operated by Northern throughout the closure to keep passengers connected.

Over the next five years, Network Rail is investing £60m in Yorkshire and the North East to help tackle disruption brought by severe weather, with major drainage schemes taking place throughout the region and the creation of new dedicated drainage roles on the organisation’s North and East route.

Kerry Peters, regional director for Northern, said: “We’re delighted to be able to resume services on the line between Pontefract Monkhill and Knottingley.

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"Our colleagues at Network Rail have worked round-the-clock to make the line safe for our customers and we appreciate the patience and understanding shown by the people affected by this issue over recent weeks.”

Other stops on the route that have been affected by the cancellations include stations in Wakefield, Pontefract, Featherstone and Streethouse.

Earlier this month, Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper expressed concern at how look it has been taking to fix the problem.

She said: "Our towns need good local bus and train services and too often across the north of England we’ve been let down."

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