South coast services continue to go into meltdown on the hottest day of the year with the cancellation of all trains between Brighton and London Bridge for the rest of the day.
The disruption follows a sinkhole opening up after a sewer collapsed at Forest hill yesterday, which Network Rail and Thames Water engineers will continue fixing until at least this evening.
Southern and Thameslink passengers are advised to check before they travel and use trains from London Victoria or London Blackfriars to get to East Croydon instead of London Bridge. Thameslink Brighton to London Bridge services are starting/terminating at Gatwick Airport.
Engineers are putting dry concrete into the hole, which will form a base where wet concrete will be poured on top. When the concrete has set, around 50 tonnes of ballast will be poured into the hole with the aim of opening the railway tomorrow. The time required for the concrete to set means the work will take the remainder of the day and evening.
Network Rail area director, Paul Rutter, said: “We appreciate this isn’t the news that passengers want to hear but we are doing everything we can to get services back to normal. Because of the location of the hole we won’t be able to run trains on this track through to London Bridge for the rest of the day. Everything has to be done in stages and we have to be confident that this repair will last to enable us to run a safe railway.
“We understand this is going to disrupt people’s journeys and passengers are advised to check before they travel and allow extra time for their journeys. We apologise for the disruption and assure passengers that we are working hard to restore the railway to full capacity.”
Thames Water engineers have located the problem section of pipe and are working to seal it and divert sewer flows. This will then allow Network Rail to begin filling in the hole.
Carl Leadbetter, Thames Water’s regional network manager, said: “Our teams continue to work as fast as possible on this critical job. While we need to work quickly to reopen the train lines, we also need to consider local residents, who will potentially suffer from sewer flooding if the pipe is not properly enclosed. This is an extremely complex job as the pipe is in a difficult location in the tracks and six metres below the ground.”
A Southern spokesman said: “We understand this is extremely frustrating for our passengers. The closure of all four lines between London Bridge and East Croydon means that our services have had to be diverted or cancelled. Our advice is to check before travelling and allow plenty of time to complete your journey today. Passengers for East Croydon should avoid using London Bridge and travel via Victoria or Blackfriars instead.”