THE railway line between Chepstow and Gloucester was closed due to a landslip near Lydney this week, months after multi-million pound works were carried out to shore up the embankment.

Network Rail closed the line on Thursday (January 5) after a landslip at Purton was caused by heavy rain.

The same stretch of the line was closed from July to September last year to allow the company to carry out the first phase of its £25 million Severn Estuary Resilience Programme. 

The works saw hundreds of employees and contractors work in the searing heat of the hottest summer on record to stabilise the landslip-prone cliff face between Purton and Awre.

A spokesperson for Network Rail said the landslip occurred on a section of the embankment they have not yet added extra protection to, but plan to as it is high risk.

Pictures show the edge of erosion-controlling mesh just to the left of the landslip.

Network Rail was alerted to the landslip via its trackside monitoring system.

A spokesperson for Network Rail said: "Over the next few days our specialist rope-access-teams will be working day and night to reprofile the embankment and clear the debris from the ground, so we can reopen the line as quickly and as safely as possible."  

"This is a particularly vulnerable three-mile-section of railway which has suffered six landslips in the past three years.

"That’s why we’re investing £25m to make this section of railway more resilient to extreme weather brought on by climate change, to reduce delays and disruption for passengers and our freight customers.”

Replacement buses for passenger services between Chepstow and Gloucester are expected to be in place until the end of service on Sunday, January 8.

Network Rail said ahead of the summer works that five major landslips at Purton had “devastated” the line since 2020. 

Those incidents delayed some 200,000 passenger and freight trains on what is a “vital” link between South Wales, the West Country and the Midlands. 

In the summer, some 15,000 tonnes of material were removed from the embankment, and 27,000 square metres of “state-of-the-art” mesh and soil nails were drilled into place.

This week’s landslip comes with Network Rail employees taking part in industrial action nationally today (Friday, January 6) and tomorrow (Saturday, January 7).

More to follow.