GOVERNMENT transport minister Simon Burns has told MPs it will be July rather than June before the Doncaster to Scunthorpe rail link re-opens.
Mr Burns confirmed the timescale in parliamentary debate on rail disruption between Doncaster and Cleethorpes, called for by Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers.
The line is blocked by material which has fallen from the spoil heap at Hatfield Colliery.
The minster said: “On March 15, Network Rail advised that clearance of the spoil had commenced. However, it now anticipates that the reinstatement of the railway will be in early July rather than in June, as it had previously advised.
“Network Rail hopes that there is no further slippage and that it will continue to make progress to achieving restoration. Network Rail cautions that any date is subject to revision in the light of uncovering further problems as the work progresses, or the recurrence of movement in the spoil heap.”
Cleethorpes MP Mr Vickers raised concerns over Cleethorpes losing Easter tourism from Doncaster and Sheffield, and called for alternative rail arrangements to be put in place as well as the replacement bus services between Doncaster and Scunthorpe.
He added: “I met Network Rail and First TransPennine on Friday, and I acknowledge the difficulties that they face. The first priority is to get the line clear and to get at least a limited service up and running. At a conservative estimate, that will take another 12 to 16 weeks.
“As Network Rail pointed out to me, there are still considerable unknowns. I understand that Network Rail needs only three to four weeks to replace the track, but it does not yet have access to the track, because it has to move the slag heap that caused the slip and ensure that it is safe for the workmen.”
Isle of Axholme MP Andrew Percy said his constituents, including those in Epworth, could experience a double whammy in that the Hull, Goole and Doncaster line was also affected. The disruption affects the stations at Crowle and Althorpe.
He raised concerned that closures on the Hull, Selby and Doncaster line in a few weeks could cause further problems and asked for an assurance that they would not be allowed to happen until the works had been completed.