Posted 20th January 2014 | 3 Comments

Repairing Welsh coastal storm damage will cost £10m

NETWORK RAIL has revealed that parts of the Cambrian Coast line on the western coast of Wales will remain closed until May, after winter storms caused serious damage at places along the route including Tywyn, Barmouth and Criccieth. The cost of the repairs has been put at £10 million.

The railway is presently closed between Dovey Junction and Pwllheli, after it was battered by high tides and a storm surge. These damaged sea defences and embankments, washed ballast into the sea and littered the track with rocks and boulders.

Efforts by engineers to inspect the line and assess the damage have been hampered by more  severe weather and high tides, so Network Rail deployed a helicopter to undertake aerial surveys of the damage and a plan to restore the line in four phases has now been worked out.

Repairs in the Tywyn area will allow the line to re-open as far as Barmouth first, and NR has estimated that trains could be running again between Dovey Junction and Barmouth by 10 February.

But the line north of Barmouth to the terminus at Pwllheli -- most of the route -- will take longer to repair, and a full train service is unlikely to be restored before the middle of May.

Mark Langman, route managing director for Network Rail Wales, said: “Network Rail fully understands the social and economic role that the Cambrian Coast line plays in the communities along it. The line connects villages, towns, schools and health centres, while also being important to the tourism industry.

"This has been an extremely challenging period, but the rebuilding operation is underway and our priority is to safely re-open the railway as soon as is possible. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the inconvenience and also thank passengers for their patience as we repair this unprecedented damage.”

However, even without bad weather the line between Harlech and Pwllheli would have stayed closed until the spring in any case, while work is completed on a new bridge over the River Dwyryd.

Network Rail said that piling work in the river bed for the new crossing was 'significantly affecting the structural capability of Pont Briwet viaduct, making it impractical to run trains during the remainder of the construction works'.

Meanwhile, in a related development, trains have started running again on the Isle of Wight after floods damaged the track in more than 20 places. South West Trains has been carrying out repairs for the past two weeks.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • phil, Watford

    Middlesbrough to Whitby must be the slowest line in Britain, probably followed by Colne to Preston

  • George Davidson, Newport

    Surely, they should take the opportunity of the closure to replace the ancient tracks and install long welded rail on concrete sleepers. Perhaps then, speeds could be increased on what is possibly the slowest line in Britain.

  • P J Walker, Aberdyfi

    £10m is not a major sum in the context of a construction project. Had damage of that magnitude been caused to the West Coast Main Line, engineers would be working 24/7 to reopen the line. As it is, things can proceed at a leisurely pace because this is just a backwater in rural Wales. Far more resources should be drafted in to reopen the line without such a delay.

    And what has caused the suspension of the service on the undamaged part of the line from Machynlleth to Tywyn?