Earth Slip in Railway

Earth Slip at Wiveliscombe Tunnel Cutting

Earth slip near St. Germans

30th JANUARY 1961



A SLIP HAS OCCURRED near St. Germans, West of Plymouth, which is of unusually large pro­portions. The slip is just outside the Plymouth mouth of the Wiveliscombe Tunnel and is some 34 yards long. At this place the cutting is some 60 to 70 feet deep and the slip extends back from the original top of the slope for some 30 yards into the fields. There are thousands of tons of earth and shale in the


The cause. The unprecedented wet weather of the last few months has saturated the ground in the area and the heavy rainfall on Sunday, 29th January, caused the initial slip. Hours after the line was closed, the sodden earth was still slipping down the slope of the cutting and on to the track.

The remedy. The earth and shale is being moved from the cutting but because of the depth and the sodden condition of the ground it is not possible to use heavy equipment from the top. In con­sequence, this will be a long job for, in addition to removing from the bottom of the cutting all the debris which has fallen on to the Engineer must trim the slopes of the cutting in such a way as to prevent further slips. The latest mechanical equipment is being used and the techniques developed by the Railway for this work ensure the quickest possible clearance of the track. Until this is done, the lines must remain closed. When the Engineer is satisfied that the track is safe for traffic, he may give permission for the train service to be resumed over a single line, at a reduced speed. This will enable the work to proceed with a minimum interference to traffic, but is de­pendent on the stability of the slope after initial clearance has been undertaken.

Re-action on traffic working. The volume of freight traffic has necessarily been reduced, and freight trains are being diverted to the Southern Region's North Cornwall Line. This is a slow single-track journey and is not a suitable alternative for passenger trains. Pass­engers travelling between Plymouth and West Cornwall are being conveyed by a bus service run between Saltash and St. Germans until a single track can be brought into use.

Delays are bound to continue until both lines are returned to traffic, and those of you travelling from West Cornwall to connect with trains at Plymouth should leave by an earlier service so as to ensure you make your connection. It is our endeavour to dispatch trains from Plymouth to time otherwise there will be dislocation of services throughout the Western Region and on the other lines.

Essential trains, such as those conveying news­papers and mails, are being diverted via the Southern Region route, until a through line is available.

The delay and inconvenience are regretted. Every effort is being made to resume throughout rail services at the earliest possible moment. Our staff will be ready to give you the latest information and any help they can.

General Manager

Paddington Station, London. W.2