Network Rail has confirmed that the railway between Dover and Folkestone will reopen on Monday 5 September.
The line has been closed since Christmas Eve 2015 after cracks were observed in the sea wall, making the line unsafe for trains to operate. NR and contractor Costain have undertaken a nine-month project to repair the line by building a new 235-metre-long viaduct supported by 134 concrete columns. The railway will reopen some three months ahead of the expected finish date for the work of December. The cost of the repair is £39.8 million, again an improvement on the original budget of £44.5 million.
NR Route managing director John Halsall suggested that a rebuilding project such as this ‘would normally take two years’. NR says the accelerated timetable for reopening has been possible because contingency time set aside to account for issues such as bad weather has not been required.
It is understood that a temporary speed restriction will initially be in place when the line reopens, with follow-up work set to take place on Sundays 11 September and 2 and 9 October.
During the closure, Southeastern has been running a revised timetable with replacement buses operating between Folkestone and Dover.
NR says that during the closure it has invested an additional £3.5 million to support the resilience of the railway. This work has included brickwork repairs on Shakespeare, Abbotscliffe and Martello tunnels, 2.4km of new track and drainage work in Abbotscliffe tunnel.