West Somerset Railway Embankment Slippage

On the 20th December there was significant embankment slippage on the West Somerset Railway. The slippage was two miles north of Bishops Lydeard station on the 1 in 80 up gradient towards Crowcombe Heathfield. Two private house gardens at the base of the embankment have been damaged.  However the railway track and formation has not moved.

West Somerset Railway believe the incident was caused by a combination of heavy rain and a change in farming practice. The line was closed to avoid any possible risk before the problem had been properly assessed.  This meant that the highly successful “Winterlights” and Santa Special trains had to be diverted. However the railway was able to run a new route. This ran from Bishops Lydeard up to the blockage and then down to Norton Fitzwarren, and back to Bishops Lydeard. 

A detailed engineering assessment took place immediately after Christmas on 27th December.  Somerset Council are working with the farmer to reduce the fundamental problem. 

Jonathan Jones Pratt, West Somerset Railway Chairman comments: “This embankment slippage is potentially a serious problem.  Operation of our scheduled trains between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead would not normally start until the end of March, so we very much hope the line will be fully open by then.”

In the meantime remedial work to the embankment is likely to be expensive. For now West Somerset railway is unsure how it can be funded. They are hoping that some compensation for the damage will be forthcoming. However Mr Jones Pratt suspects that they will have to launch an appeal to their supporters. The railway does not carry sufficient reserves to fund work on this scale.

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