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Rail delays averted after cracked pipe wrapped

Thames Water pipe 3x2

Delays on a busy commuter rail line were prevented after engineers wrapped netting around a suspended water pipe, whose casing had cracked, stopping concrete falling onto a railway line.

Network Rail workers spotted a crack in the concrete casing of a 720mm water pipe, above the main line between Honor Oak Park and Brockley stations in south London. Thames Water was alerted and a 24-hour watch was set up to monitor the problem.

A team decided to wrap the pipe in debris netting and secure it with nylon straps at 300mm intervals as an emergency measure – preventing loose concrete from falling onto the tracks and disrupting services.

“It’s great that we’ve [Thames Water and Network Rail] worked together to get a quick fix in place and we’ll continue to help them carry out their work once a plan is in place for a permanent solution,” said Network Rail south east route chief operating officer Andy Derbyshire.

Access to the pipe from ground level was provided by eight rail-mounted cherry pickers and the wrapping was finished within four hours.

“We could not run the risk of any concrete falling onto the track, and the tightly wrapped netting has now made it safe until a more permanent solution is designed and agreed,” said a Thames Water spokesperson.

The wrapping will stay in place until a permanent repair plan is developed, a contractor appointed and more time for works agreed with Network Rail.

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