Dawlish line out again as Storm Emma hits


New damage and disruption to the rail link at Dawlish in Devon has come just days after ministers pledged support but no new cash for the line.

Following inspections on Friday morning, Nework Rail said the railway between Dawlish and Dawlish Warren had sustained damage last night as a result of Storm Emma.

There is no structural damage to the sea wall and the integrity of the railway itself has not been damaged, However, 10-15m of fencing and associated coping stones has been damaged, some of which is now lying on the railway.

A substantial amount of ballast has been washed across the track along a 150m length of railway. Network Rail engineers are now working to remove and replace the ballast.

Dawlish station itself has suffered minor damage, with wooden panels and handrails washed onto the track and a small section of the platform damaged.

Cllr Geoff Brown, chair of the Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF), which campaigns for improvements to rail links to Devon and Cornwall, said: ‘The adverse weather conditions, damage and subsequent disruption seen at Dawlish over the last couple of days underlines the urgent need for investment in a resilient line.

‘The PRTF would like to commend Network Rail’s Team Orange which is working around the clock to ensure the railway can reopen.

‘It does not however make this situation acceptable, and we urge the Government to deliver on its promises far more quickly, rather than rely on patching repairs. Our communities cannot rely on the promises of resilience in the future - we’ve been waiting since 2014.’

Network Rail said the absence of structural damage was ‘testimony to the quality of the strengthening works Network Rail delivered in 2014’ after parts of the line were washed away.

Route managing director Mark Langman said: ‘Team Orange will be working round the clock to make the railway safe so that it can reopen. There will be no services on this line today and we will issue an update later today confirming when we expect to re-open this section of the railway. Currently reopening is anticipated to be within the next 24-36 hours.’ 

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