Drought forces rail line closure after causing track movement

Drought conditions have been blamed for closing a railway line after a lack of rain caused track movement.

The line between Ely, in Cambridgeshire, and Downham Market, in Norfolk, will be closed for two days while repairs are carried out.

Network Rail said the problem resulted from the dry weather of recent months.

The line will be closed on November 20 and 27 to allow for repairs to take place. Services will be running at reduced speeds at other times.

A company spokeswoman said the conditions had caused the track to become out of line with overhead cables.

"The closures are necessary because the ground on this stretch of track is drying out owing to a lack of rainfall in the area," said the spokeswoman.

"As a result of the dry weather, ground movement has caused the tracks to become out of direct alignment with the overhead lines used to power trains."

'Incredibly dry'

Colin Sampson, chairman of the Fen Line Users' Association, said the reason for the closure might seem unusual but was not unexpected.

"If you lived in other parts of the county, you might wonder what on earth was going on but for most of us here I don't think it's that much of a surprise," he said.

"The reasons are perfectly understandable. It's due to the poor Fenland soil quality.

"It's unfortunate because it causes disruption but we're lucky it hasn't happened before. It's a result of the incredibly dry summer."

Anglian Water applied for a drought permit this week after experiencing the driest spring for 80 years.

Drought is latest natural event blamed for disruption on the railways.

Previously, problems have been caused by leaves on the line, snow and extreme heat.

Network Rail apologised for the disruption on the 19-mile route.

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