UK Storms And Flooding Set Back Rail Repairs

Dawlish rail track

Weekend bad weather hits London to Brighton line and west coast briefly disrupted but most Great Western services restored.

Weekend storms have caused further damage to the railways and set back repair schedules, but engineers have restored many of the train services most disrupted by floods on the Great Western main line.

Despite the severe weather abating, rising groundwater has caused fresh problems, with a tunnel blocked on the main London to Brighton line.

Network Rail said groundwater levels in the tunnel at Patcham were 48.1 metres (157ft) above average, leaving tracks more than 1 metre under water. Rail services from the capital are reaching Brighton via Lewes and replacement bus services in the area are connecting on the normal route. Network Rail said it was hopeful that limited services could be restored by Monday evening.

While storms briefly disrupted intercity travel on Saturday, including on the west coast main line between London and Manchester, which was blocked by trees on the line near Milton Keynes, work during Sunday and overnight has restored other major services.

Two of the four tracks around Maidenhead, which was seriously affected by last week’s flooding, are now fully operational, allowing fast, long-distance services to return to Bristol and the west.

First Great Western will be running about 75% of normal services out of Paddington, with local trains still affected. The line between Windsor and Staines, closed by floods, reopened on Monday morning.

The seawall at Dawlish in Devon, which sustained an 80-metre hole in earlier storms that destroyed the track, took a further battering on Friday night. A Network Rail spokesman said the new damage may well increase the time it takes to fix the track – already expected to take six weeks – but a full assessment would be made later this week.

Robin Gisby, Network Rail’s managing director of operations said: “Passengers have been tremendously understanding during a period of extraordinary weather that has had a major impact on rail services in some areas.

“Services are returning to normal, but for some, especially in the far west where parts of the railway have been destroyed, it will be a number of weeks yet until we are able to offer the level and standard of service people have rightly come to expect.”


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