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VIDEO: No trains between Barnstaple and Exeter until after Christmas

By e_glanfield  |  Posted: December 23, 2012

  • Engineers at Cowley Bridge outside Exeter St Davids trying to save signalling. Photo from Mike Yearworth

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Train services between Barnstaple and Exeter St. David’s will not resume until after Christmas, National Rail confirmed today.

All train services on the Tarka Line have been cancelled due to severe flooding on the track at Cowley Bridge.

Rail replacement buses are currently unable to run due to flooding on the roads, leaving North Devon virtually cut off from the rest of the South West.

National Rail said the line is expected to remain closed until Saturday, December 29.

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Video: Engineering work at Cowley Bridge on Sunday morning. Video by Mike Yearworth.

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  • jaybee1958  |  December 23 2012, 1:28PM

    Can we just be clear on one thing please. Unlike the earlier floods the Tarka Line has not been closed this time because of actual damage to the Tarka Line itself. It is the point at which the Tarka Line meets the Great Western main line at Cowley Bridge Junction that is the problem. The decision was taken by Network Rail to lay a high capacity water filled dam across the tracks here to try and avoid the flood waters damaging both the signalling equipment and remote point changing equipment as happened before. During the earlier flooding this damage actually proved more difficult and costly to rectify than the washed out track here. The problem is that there are 3 rivers that come together at this point (Creedy, Exe and Yeo). There is a culvert linking the Yeo to the Exe relief channel and this cannot cope when the water levels rise meaning that the water level rises over the track bed to take the alternative route to the sea into the already swollen Creedy and Exe. The decision was taken to try and protect this after the experiences earlier in the month. Road transport WAS provided for one departure yesterday (the 0843 ex-Barnstaple), but it was decided that with less resources available than usual during the Christmas period that the road transport should be concentrated on the main line instead. The A377 was also becoming flooded in several places and to serve the intermediate stations along the line became impossible to predict. Instead it was decided to direct passengers desperate to reach Exeter to use the Barnstaple - Exeter bus service 315 (operated by Stagecoach) which actually calls at Barnstaple station and serves Morchard Road, Copplestone, Crediton and Newton St Cyres and which managed to continue to operate yesterday. Taxis provided for the needs of those few travelling elsewhere. There is no Sunday service on the 315, but I am pleased to report that road transport has been restarted today and at least two double deck vehicles have been made available to increase available capacity at a time when fewer drivers can be found to work. It might also be worth mentioning that National Express service 502 continued to operate yesterday and today (except that the coach that runs between Ilfracombe and Barnsytaple was unable to do so because of the floods). There are local fares available on this service between Barnstaple, South Molton and Tiverton to Taunton. This may provide a useful alternative means of reaching trains at Taunton that are still running and avoid an expensive taxi fare. Hope that helps. John Burch Chairman Tarka Rail Association & SW Regional Manager Confederation of Passenger Transport.

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