Posted 29th June 2012 | 1 Comment
Flash floods close East and West Coast lines
NETWORK RAIL engineers have been battling to reopen the main lines which link England and Scotland, after both were blocked by torrential rain. The bad weather in the north triggered landslides, stranding one train for fifteen hours. A Scottish route was also blocked by a derailed freight train.
No services are running on the East Coast Main Line between Edinburgh and Newcastle, because of a landslip and flooding south of Berwick, and East Coast does not expect to restore through services before tomorrow.
The West Coast Main Line was also badly affected by the weather in Cumbria. One Virgin train travelling through the Lake District was halted between two landslides for a while, and after restarting was then stopped again near Lockerbie because of a fire on board.
Virgin said the fire was 'minor', and there are no reports of injuries, but passengers were stranded for as long as 15 hours. One passenger spoke of 'total chaos'.
There were more problems north of the border, with another landslip blocking the line at Arrochar, a derailed freight train in the west Highlands at Tulloch and a lightning strike at Dalwhinnie, which damaged signalling.
West Coast services are returning to normal this morning, and the weather forecast is improving, but an East Coast spokesman said although Network Rail engineers had been working 'flat out' to repair the damage near Berwick, passengers were being advised not to try to travel in the area. It had not been possible to provide replacement buses in the Borders.
East Coast is running trains between London and Newcastle, and there is also a full service to Leeds. CrossCountry services have been suspended between Newcastle and Berwick. Northern Rail and First TransPennine Express services were reported to be running normally.
One route has remained open – the once-doomed Settle and Carlisle route, which has been used for some diverted Virgin Trains services using diesel traction.
The line was threatened with closure during the 1980s but was eventually reprieved after a prolonged campaign to save it. Major investment has been made in recent years so that it can carry heavy freight trains.
Richard Morris, who is chairman of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line, said: "It is rare for both East and West Coast Main Lines to be blocked simultaneously. The Settle-Carlisle Line is remarkably robust and we are delighted that on this occasion it can resume the purpose for which it was built – as the third route between England and Scotland."
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