David Cameron: “This is a great day for the hard-working people of Dawlish, and for businesses and commuters across the South West”.
After 8 weeks of repairs, the train line at Dawlish - connecting the South West to the rest of the country - has reopened in time for the Easter holidays.
The line was damaged during the winter storms earlier in the year. As a result, a raft of measures were put in place to help people continue to travel including buses to provide alternative transport, discounted fares and additional flights out of Newquay.
The Prime Minister was present as the line reopened. He said:
This is a great day for the hard-working people of Dawlish, and for businesses and commuters across the South West whose lives have been turned upside down by the devastating loss of their train line. Back in February when I visited the town to see the damage for myself, I promised to do everything I could to get this vital artery back up and running as quickly as possible. I am delighted to say that promise has been delivered today. A promise which says that the South West is well and truly open for business.
The impact of the extreme weather shows the importance of making our railways strong enough to weather any storm. That is why we announced a £31 million package of improvements and asked Network Rail to examine every option to ensure the resilience of this route, all part of our long-term economic plan to boost business and create more jobs in the region.
Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said:
Our army of engineers has done an amazing job of putting back together a railway that was ravaged by the elements. They have overcome every obstacle thrown at them, winning many battles along the way to restore this critical piece of the network, ahead of schedule, and in time for the Easter holidays.
The biggest thanks must be reserved for passengers and local communities and businesses who have been hugely supportive and patient over the past 2 months as we worked flat-out to rebuild this vital rail link.
Our focus now moves to the medium and long-term looking at what can be done at Dawlish to make the current coastal route more resilient and, by the autumn, understand what the best viable relief route might be.
Though the line has reopened, engineers will continue to work on a less critical phase that includes:
- fully restoring the signalling and electronic equipment – currently a normal service is running with some minor retiming owing to a temporary signalling solution being in place
- removing the shipping container temporary sea wall
- rebuilding Brunel’s original sea-wall at the breach site using original stone and craftsmen repairing
- restoring the public footpath on the seaward side of the sea wall so the much loved coastal path from Dawlish to Teignmouth can reopen
- rebuilding the ‘lost road’ at Riviera Terrace so residents cut off by the breach can fully return to their homes again
See information and advice about the recovery schemes and support available following flooding in parts of the UK.