MORE than one-and-a-half million tonnes of colliery spoil has got to be moved before the wrecked railway line at Stainforth, Doncaster, can be rebuilt, say experts.
Network Rail yesterday allowed the media on to the tracks near Hatfield Colliery for a view of the damage caused by last month’s landslip, and explained why it will take until June or July to restore train services between Doncaster and Goole and Scunthorpe.
The costs will be ‘tens of millions of pounds’ - but it could be up to two years before it is decided who pays the bill.
The landslip has now stopped moving and teams have already started felling trees next to the railway line to allow heavy plant to start moving the spoil.
Phil Verster, route managing director of Network Rail, has confirmed it is the worst damage suffered to a British railway line in the past half century.
They plan to move the 1.5m tonnes of spoil to other parts of the colliery site and are negotiating with landowners for other locations, all within two miles, so there will be little movement on public roads.
That will take at least 12 weeks, then it will take another three or four weeks to relay the track, firstly with two lines so trains can resume as the other two lines are laid.
“Our biggest challenge is to do this job safely and, while the spoil was moving, we could not start, but now it has stabilised,” said Mr Verster.
“This is all new for us and we may find other challenges that may affect the timescale. Laying the trackbed is the easy part.
“We will be working as little as possible in the public domain - our focus is to get trains moving again.”