England

Ore Tunnel work to close Marshlink rail line

Essential maintenance work on a railway tunnel in East Sussex will lead to the closure of a key route at the start of 2012, passengers have been warned.

Network Rail said the line between Rye and Hastings would be closed for nine weeks from January to March.

This will enable the repair of the Ore Tunnel, along with points and signals, on the Marshlink line.

The closure will affect Southern Railway services across Romney Marsh between Ashford in Kent and Hastings.

Network Rail said it needed to carry out the work in the Ore Tunnel to improve the drainage and repair the lining inside to prevent water seeping through.

"If this work does not take place, there could be substantial damage to the structure in the coming years which could have a major impact on people's journeys," a statement said.

It added that the work had been scheduled for the winter to try to avoid "the busy summer months, minimising the impact for passengers and the businesses which rely on tourism in particular".

Public meeting

It said other work would be carried out at the same time to improve the railway and minimise disruption, including upgrading points and signals to improve reliability, and the maintenance of bridges and tracks that could lead to higher line speeds.

Southern Railway said it would operate a rail replacement bus service between Hastings and Ashford International.

It said bus services would also need to be extended to Bexhill on some weekends.

The MarshLink Action Group (MLAG), which acts for passengers using the line, said while it believed the works were necessary, there were still questions arising from the intended closure of the line that needed to be addressed.

It said it had invited Network Rail and Southern Railway to a public meeting at Rye Community Centre, in Conduit Hill, on Friday evening to discuss the matter.

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