A SENIOR minister has been in Hampshire this morning to witness the efforts being done to restore the biggest railway landslip in the country.

Rail minister Stephen Hammond was at farmland just outside Botley to see the 24-hour day operation going on there led by Network Rail.

He praised the efforts of workers and said the government planned to spend millions of pounds to try to prevent future similar events but added the amount of rainfall had been unprecedented.

Mr Hammond did not rule out investing further in the Hampshire rail network if it was considered necessary.

The site just outside Botley is a constant hive of activity as workmen drive metal tiles into the ground to try to build up the land and stop further slipping.

There are three areas affected in a mile-long stretch.

The biggest site is an 88-metre stretch of railway which project manager Steve Kilby said was the largest embankment collapse in living memory.

Nearby there is a 44-metre landslip while a third slip affects 77 metres of track.

Daily Echo:

Mr Kilby said: “The wet weather has saturated the ground and caused the clay to slip away.

“The landslip is so serious that the land has dropped by six metres and the railway track was hanging above.”

He added: “They were moving 14,000 tonnes of waste material off the site and needed to bring in 20,000 tonnes of new material to restore the line - the equivalent of 1,000 lorry loads.”

It took workmen a week just to build the access road to the site.

It is hoped the line will re-open on March 17.

Daily Echo: