Posted 20th March 2014 | No Comments

Part of Cambrian Coast line to reopen early

TRAINS are set to run again on the Cambrian Coast line north of Barmouth as far as Harlech on 1 May, as Network Rail completes a £10 million programme of storm repairs.

The restoration of train services over much of the route will be two weeks ahead of schedule, although the line will remain closed beyond Harlech for now as a viaduct is being rebuilt.

Dozens of engineers have been working round the clock to repair the sea defences and rebuild the railway. One of the worst affected sites was at Llanaber, where the winter storms and tidal surges had severely damaged the infrastructure.

As part of the project, 40 tonnes of debris has been removed and 6,000 pieces of 'rock armour' forming the sea protection have been replaced or repaired. More than 1,000 sleepers, 2,500 tonnes of ballast and 1,400 metres of track have also been restored.

Mark Langman, route managing director for Wales said: “I’m fully aware of the importance of the line to the local economy. We know it’s an important route for tourists and I’m determined that the work will be completed as soon as is possible. I’d also like to thank to local communities along the line for their patience whilst the work has been carried out”.

Lynne Milligan, customer services director at Arriva Trains Wales, added: “We welcome this good news and we would like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding over the last few months. We will continue to run a regular rail replacement bus service between Harlech and Pwllheli and look forward to the rest of the line reopening in the very near future.

Beyond the repair work, a Coastal Asset Management Plan is being developed to safeguard the 55km of Welsh railway sea defences against extreme weather. This long-term strategy is in addition to the existing annual £1.2 million programme to maintain and renew the railway sea defences in Wales.

The Welsh strategy is being paralled by a major study in the south west of England, where a taskforce consisting of Network Rail and other organisations, including local authorities and the DfT, is drawing up plans to safeguard the railway between Exeter and Plymouth following severe storm damage at Dawlish in early February. Network Rail said today that it still expects to reopen the Great Western line through south Devon on 4 April. The longer-term options being considered include a possible new inland route, avoiding the vulnerable sea wall at Dawlish.