LONDON, April 4 The main railway link from
southwest England to the rest of Britain reopened on Friday, two
months after part of the track was swept away by the sea after
being battered by days of fierce storms, high winds and
January was Britain's wettest in nearly 250 years, and in
early February high tides and stormy seas destroyed a large
section of sea wall at Dawlish in the county of Devon, washing a
stretch of railway track into the sea.
Further flooding and landslips cut off all rail links to
Devon and Cornwall. Business communities in the areas have
estimated it has cost the local economy millions of pounds for
each day the rail link has been shut.
"Back in February when I visited the town to see the damage
for myself, I promised to do everything I could to get this
vital artery back up and running as quickly as possible," said
Prime Minister David Cameron who was in Dawlish for the
"I am delighted to say that promise has been delivered
today," he added.
Track operator Network Rail said a 300-strong team had
worked for eight weeks to repair the line, which runs alongside
the south coast in one of the most scenic and dramatic stretches
of railway in Britain.
Engineers have built a temporary sea wall, removed 25,000
tonnes of collapsed cliff following a landslip, rebuilt half of
Dawlish station and replaced more than 700m (2,300 ft) of track
In total, the repairs have cost 35 million pounds and the
government has promised another 31 million pounds of
improvements for the route.
However, business leaders said the travel disruption has
already proved very costly.
The Plymouth Chamber of Commerce said a survey of businesses
in the city put the daily cost at more than 1 million pounds,
with a much higher impact when the entire affected southwest
region, home to some 80,000 businesses, was taken into account.
Some business figures have put the cost as high as 20
million pounds a day.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)