UK & World News

  • 10 February 2014, 6:43

Flood Warnings: Passengers Face Rail Misery

Train passengers are being warned they could face major travel disruption today as swollen rivers threaten rail lines in the south of England.

Network Rail has been working since the weekend to reopen lines in the South West cut off by floodwaters.

Flooding at Athelney and between Taunton and Bridgwater in Somerset means that route from London remains closed.

But the route via Yeovil at Crewkerne reopened on Sunday after a landslip. There were no direct trains from Exeter to London, but engineers hoped to restore some services by today.

Network Rail said repair work is progressing in six-hour shifts on an 80-metre stretch of the sea wall between high tides at Dawlish in Devon, where a crucial section of track linking Cornwall to the rest of the country was destroyed by high tides last Wednesday.

That is expected to take six weeks to complete.

But there were more concerns for the South as the River Thames could burst its banks in commuter towns that have train routes into the capital.

Fourteen of the 16 severe flood warnings issued by the Environment Agency are in the Thames Valley.

Robin Gisby, head of network operations at Network Rail, said: "West of Exeter we are blocked at Dawlish, that is still some weeks to fix.

"Getting from Paddington and Waterloo down to Exeter, we've got one route back. We should get a second route opened tonight, that's the route that comes down through Newbury to Taunton.

"The third one down Bristol and Bridgwater is some way away from getting opened, we are very seriously flooded there with all the other issues coming off the Somerset Levels.

"As of Monday morning I hope to have about half the capacity we'd normally have to Exeter, but obviously nothing beyond that."

Mr Gisby said limited services could be in operation from Oxford down to Didcot as the Thames floods.

First Great Western tweeted on Sunday night that flooding was causing disruption between Oxford and Radley, with a limited shuttle service running between Didcot Parkway and Oxford.

Mr Gisby added: "Some of the branch lines - Maidenhead, Marlow and Henley as well - are looking quite difficult as I speak now.

"We are going to see some significant flooding of the Thames over the next two or three days, which in turn will affect the rail from Oxford down to Didcot, Reading and into Paddington."

A Network Rail spokesman said: "Passengers intending to travel on routes through the Thames Valley on Monday morning are advised to check before they travel, as flood warnings are in place for the region."

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