Railway path embankment works delayed until August

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The footpath running from Cannon Grove to Mill Lane will now remain open for most of the summer.

It was expected that major embankment works by Network Rail would be starting in May or June.  But earlier this week the FRA was told that the work would not now be going ahead until late August.

Network Rail says the work to strengthen the embankment, which carries the line from Leatherhead to Effingham Junction, is scheduled for completion in early January.

Regular users of the path will face a four-month closure over the autumn period while the contractors install a haul road from Mill Lane to allow the transport and operation of heavy piling equipment.

In previous discussions with land owner SES Water, the FRA had suggested that a temporary footpath diversion could be created across the Fetcham Springs field – with a view to it becoming permanent.  But this idea was ruled out by SES, because their longer-term plans for the overall Fetcham Springs site were not clear, nor were sources of finance.

Flooded footpath

The stretch of path adjacent to the railway, officially known as Footpath 16, has been subject to persistent flooding and complaints in recent years. 

Network Rail has advised FRA and SES Water that even if the path is reinstated, and some drainage installed at the foot of the embankment, further flooding cannot be ruled out in the years to come.

The FRA believes a better long-term solution may be a permanent diversion of the path into the Fetcham Springs field, immediately to the south of the flooded woodland area that is adjacent to the railway, but this depends on SES Water’s long-term plans.

The FRA has requested SES Water that this idea, and other plans for the site, be the subject of discussion between the two parties and other stakeholders.

FRA Committee member Dr Robert Whitcombe, who has been closely involved in these talks, believes the delay to the railway works may allow this option to be explored more fully.

He said: “In order to eliminate flooding of Footpath 16, SES Water has favoured re-instatement of the existing footpath and management of the woodland and of water levels - and is still proposing to investigate this option. However, in the light of Network Rail advice that there will be a risk of continued flooding and FRA pressure to consider an alternative that is compatible with future uses of Fetcham Springs, we hope that SES Water will now engage with FRA to look seriously at the option of a diversion of Footpath 16."

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