The railway between Exeter and Penzance is shut after damage at several locations caused by strong winds, heavy seas and flooding as storms continue to batter the UK and the South West of England in particular.
In a press release, Network Rail stated the following,
‘On the coast at Dawlish, around 80m of both tracks has been severely damaged by the sea, washing away ballast and the foundations on which the track is built. There is also severe damage to the sea wall and the track and platforms at Dawlish station.
We’re on site at a number of locations in the south west of England and are making repairs where the weather conditions permit. It is hoped that these repairs will enable some services on the main line between Plymouth and Penzance to resume today 5 February 2014, however the line between Exeter and Plymouth will remain closed until further notice because of the damage at Dawlish.
We’ll carry out an initial assessment of the damage at Dawlish as soon as the weather subsides to help us identify the extent and scope of repairs required to enable trains to run safely.’
Before setting off, check with your train operator or National Rail Enquiries for the latest information on how the weather is impacting rail journeys .’
Patrick Hallgate, Route Managing Director at Network Rail was interviewed on BBC News today stating ‘it’s very difficult with the high tide to give a full assessment of the works. Off the tops of our heads we’d have to say between four and six weeks’ worth of work but there’s damage in three of four separate locations and until we can get in and do a proper structural assessment, it really is too early to say.
I’d say this is probably the biggest structural engineering feat we’ve faced in the South West for at least the last decade. The local teams working here have said that this is the worst damage they have seen in their careers to the sea wall but obviously we are absolutely keen to make sure that as quickly as possible we can restore this for the community of Dawlish.’