Track repairs delayed until landslide settles
NETWORK Rail bosses say they do not know when the landslide causing severe travel delays will come to a halt.
The firm's officials say they are waiting for the landslip, which happened on February 12 near the Hatfield colliery to settle manually.
Once this has occurred, it is predicted it will take eight weeks to repair the damage.
A Network Rail spokesman anticipates the delays will be "for some time".
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He said: "Our engineers are working with the colliery to plan the safe repair of the track bed and railway once the spoil heap has been stabilised.
"Our initial estimate is that it will take approximately eight weeks to repair the damage after the colliery have completed their work."
Brigg rail campaigner Phillip Hewson has called for trains to be re-routed through Kirton and Brigg, but Network Rail says this would involve months of re-training for drivers and lead to longer journeys.
A spokeswoman for Hargreaves Coal Services, which owns the colliery, said detailed assessments of the situation were still going on between Hatfield Colliery's engineers, external civil engineers, Network Rail and the Health and Safety Executive.
"Our teams are working 24 hours a day to try to sort this problem as quickly as possible," she said.
"At this stage, we are unable to say when that will be."
The Government is also pressing officials to sort the problem out.
Rail minister Norman Baker said: "I will continue to urge Network Rail to complete the work as soon as possible and end the disruption to people's journeys."
The area's MPs say they have also urged officials to get the problem sorted as soon as possible.
Nic Dakin, MP for Scunthorpe, said: "Like other people, I am very concerned about any detrimental impact on local people.
"A number of local people have got in touch with me expressing their concerns and suggesting possible ways in which the various agencies might work together to mitigate the impact."
Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy, said: "Clearly, the situation is not of Network Rail's making and they cannot magic up a new track overnight.
"This is obviously deeply frustrating to commuters such as myself who use this stretch of line every week."
Some firms are using video calling and other technologies to get around the travel issues.
David Hooper, external affairs manager of the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, said: "Businesses which rely heavily on rail freight transport will have to find alternative rail routes or employ alternative methods of transport for their goods, which will no doubt have a cost implication and cause some logistics problems in the short term."