Dawlish: Damaged Railway Reopens After Repair
David Cameron has paid tribute to an "orange army" of workmen after they completed a £35m repair project on the badly damaged rail line at Dawlish.
The Prime Minister was in Dawlish to deliver on his pledge made in February that he would do "everything I could" to get the line back in action.
The reopening of the key link between the South West and the rest of the country comes as a huge relief to communities and businesses.
The closure of the line due to storm damage could have cost the region's economy more than £450m, according to estimates by Plymouth's Chamber of Commerce.
In a speech to those gathered to celebrate the re-opening of the line he said: "This is a really important day for Dawlish. It's really important for the South West but it's also really important too for the whole of our country.
"I know how cut off people here in the South West felt after that terrible storm and it was so important to get this work done."
He then called for three cheers for the "orange army" of workers who repaired the railway.
The rail line became a symbol of politicians' failure to adequately respond to the chaos caused by widespread flooding during a months of storms.
A 300-strong team has spent weeks repairing the line, which was badly damaged on February 4 when the sea wall was breached during storms.
The line which links Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance was forced to close after part of the wall collapsed.
Shipping containers were put into place in Dawlish to act as a temporary sea wall, but they suffered damage after further storms in February and engineers also discovered a cliff face just south of the village in Teignmouth had sheared away above the track.
As part of the repair work, half of Dawlish station has also been rebuilt, new cabling has been installed and the sea wall breach has been fortified with more than 6,000 tonnes of concrete.
National Rail chief executive Mark Carne 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."