Last week the Dawlish train line was further damaged due to the continuing bad weather across the South West of England. Past rail repairs and the makeshift sea walls which had been erected between 14 – 17 February were almost all destroyed on Friday, delaying scheduled repairs to the train line to Dawlish.
Further predicted storms and the continuation of the bad weather has meant that repairs scheduled by Network Rail will now not be completed on the train line until mid-April; the original estimation had been mid-March.
According to Exeter Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, this further damage and subsequent delay to repairs on the Dawlish train line had been “another serious blow” to the South West economy.
Network Rail, “conscious of the importance” of the connection between Cornwall, Devon and the rest of the UK, is attempting to complete all repairs by the Easter Bank Holiday, if not before.
It is imperative that the rail network is running by the Easter school holidays, otherwise tourism, which relies on good network links and in particular on the rail lines, will decline. It has been estimated that between “£2m and £20m a day” is being lost by businesses who rely on the rail network, believes Tim Jones, chairman of Devon and Cornwall Business Council.
There are increasing fears that the lack of train line to Dawlish and other parts of the South West, notably Cornwall and Devon, is sending out the message that the South West is detached from the rest of the UK. In response to this fear, the route manager of Network Rail Western, Patrick Hallgate, has reported that Network Rail is aware of how important the railway is to the South West, its economy and the people of Dawlish and repairs will commence as soon as possible.
Until the repairs are carried out there is a replacement bus service ferrying people from Exeter to Cornwall.
Beatrice Wood, News Teambookmark me