Phil Verster, Route Managing Director for Network Rail, said: I want to thank passengers for their patience during this exceptionally difficult time. The size of the task facing us at Hatfield Colliery is one of the most complex I have faced in my rail career. Engineers have made excellent progress on site but the potentially dangerous nature of the material we are dealing with means repair has to be carefully and meticulously planned.
Good Weather has aided our Repairs
The recent good weather means we have increased confidence that the railway will be restored in July. However that remains subject to weather conditions on site and the behaviour of the spoil, which can be unpredictable. Therefore we continue to aim for July but plan for a September restoration to make sure we have a clear, workable train plan should the works coincide with the resignalling programme at Nottingham, starting 20 July.
On continuing disruption to rail passengers in north Lincolnshire, Mr Verster added: I fully appreciate the importance of restoring a direct rail service to communities and businesses in Cleethorpes, Scunthorpe, Goole and other places affected by the Hatfield landslip. My team and I are committed to do so as quickly as is possible.
We are working closely with the operators of passenger and freight traffic to make best use of the railway network during the disruption and there have been some difficult trade offs. Capacity on the diversionary routes through Brigg and Lincoln is limited and it is essential we provide capacity for the freight flows out of Immingham and Scunthorpe upon which our economy relies. I remain grateful for the patience of our communities, our passengers and our freight customers.”
Network Rail has to find diversionary capability for approximately 140 freight services per day because of the damage caused by the landslip. These trains are essential to the UK economy and carry, amongst other goods, oil for aviation fuel, steel critical for production processes and coal for electricity generation. The majority are being accommodated on the Brigg line with some services also accommodated on the route through Lincoln. A significant number of these services are carrying coal which is feeding the power stations maintaining essential power supplies to the north of England and East Midlands.
Following meetings with local councils and customer feedback, First TransPennine Express will be introducing a new Sheffield to Cleethorpes service via the Brigg Line. This new ‘holidaymaker’ will run on Saturdays from 25 May leaving Sheffield at 1030. It will return from Cleethorpes to Sheffield at 1811. This is in addition to the three services in each direction which are operated by Northern Rail on this route every Saturday.