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£5million spent to prevent weather causing Devon rail chaos

By WMNlynbarton  |  Posted: December 19, 2013

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A total of £5million has been spent to protect part of the mainline railway in Devon where delays caused by severe weather totted up to 34,000 minutes.

A year on since the floods in 2012, Network Rail, which manages the nation’s rail infrastructure, says it has ploughed the money into the county prevent similar problems from happening again.

The measures include inflatable dams, work to ensure signalling systems do not get flooded and securing rock faces.

Mike Gallop, director for Network Rail’s route asset management said it was hoped the £5million project would make th system more resilient to terrible weather.

“Network Rail recognises the impact of extreme weather on the railway and improving the railway resilience remains a key priority for us,” he said.

“Following the extensive disruption to train services from floods last year, we took immediate steps to review and implement new measures to help boost the resilience of our infrastructure.”

Mr Gallop said that as well as spending money in the short term, a larger and more expensive scheme would also focus on some of the worst areas.

He said that last year’s floods which washed across the region affected Cowley Bridge railway junction so badly that it caused around 34,000 minutes, or 566 hours and 40 minutes, of rail delay in total.

“Whilst implementing these new measures to support the operation of the railway, we are also taking a long-term approach to prepare us for the changing weather and climate over the next 70 to 80 years,” he said.

“We are currently also working on a high-level strategy, which includes a £31m intervention plan targeting high risk flood sites such as Cowley Junction.

“This plan, subject to approval from the government, combines a series of measures including lifting track, upgrading culverts, strengthening earthworks and a new monitoring system.”

Around 70% of November’s rainfall landed in seven days last year, leading to 31 floods across the Western route – railway covering the South West of England and the Thames Valley - in that month alone.

Disruption to passengers and freight on the Western route was widespread with over 700 cancellations and 129,000 delay minutes owing to these incidents.

Among the measures being taken is a set of inflatable dams to protect railway infrastructure, including track bed and signalling cables, from being damaged by floods.

The dams, made of synthetic fabric, will help divert water away from the railway track and speed up the recovery process.

In addition, Network Rail has carried out a programme of works to secure lineside equipment from floods with new protective bases as well as install netting on Teignmouth cliffs to prevent rockfall.

The nettings are also equipped with remote monitoring system to help understand the severity of rock movement.

Drainage works at Whiteball tunnel near Tiverton and around Hele and Bradnich have also been carried out.

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