Following the severance of the line at Dawlish, a programme of flood relief works has been brought forward as part of the South Devon Link Road project.
The works will be done ahead of schedule in order to minimise disruption later on for travellers; by timing them to coincide with the works at Dawlish, both programmes will finish in time to open the main rail route on April 4th.
The works include the installation of a large culvert at Keyberry, near Sainsburys at Newton Abbot. The culvert is part of vital flood prevention measures to carry water away from the low lying flood plain, reducing the risk of flooding in the area.
Installing the culvert will involve 24 hour working for approximately 6.5 days. Throughout the period contractor Galliford Try will need to close the railway between Paignton and Totnes.
The work will take place between Saturday 15th March at 00:01 hours and will conclude on Friday 21st March at 16:00 hours, with rail services restarting on Saturday 22 March.
As a result there is likely to be an increase in the level of construction noise during due to the machinery being used to undertake the work.
A number of measures are being undertaken to minimise noise including arranging for deliveries within normal working hours where possible, and ensuring machinery is turned off when not in use.
During the works, contingency arrangements are in place for the rail users.
The South Devon Link Road project team have worked closely with First Great Western, Cross Country and Network Rail on the planning of this operation to minimise disruption for passengers.
As a result, for travellers between Paignton and Totnes, there will be a coach service with special coaches for the two Torbay Grammar schools.
For the duration of the works, Stagecoach South West will accept rail tickets on all its South Devon buses enabling alternative transport options if necessary.
Customers between Totnes and Plymouth will also be affected.
Services will be operated by a shuttle service of local trains between Totnes and Plymouth, with high speed services from Plymouth to Penzance.
First Great Western will be providing complimentary refreshments at key stations, whilst monthly and longer season ticket holders affected by the closure will receive a special compensation package.
Whilst deliveries may mean extra traffic, this is not expected to affect motorists in the area.
Jim Watson, Project Director at Galliford Try said:
“Although work on the South Devon Link Road is making good progress despite the recent weather events, it has had an impact on our construction activities, with a huge amount of water on site causing issues with earth moving and so certain activities have had to be reprogrammed.
“Initially, we had planned to do this work later on in the schedule, which would have caused some delays to the travelling public, although we would always seek to minimise any impact.
“I’d like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause: our Public Liaison team will be on call at all times during this works programme should residents have a need to raise any questions.”
Gordon Oliver, Mayor of Torbay, said:
“Although this activity will cause some disturbance it is a critical piece of work and working this close to the railway constrains when the activity can take place. We are pleased that First Great Western and Network Rail are doing all they can to minimise the impact on travellers and improve their journeys at this time. ”
Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth at Devon County Council, said:
“The decision to bring this work forward has been made following extensive discussions with Network Rail. Doing the work now - whilst the line is already experiencing a high degree of disruption - will avoid interrupting services later on during holiday time. The works will also be complete by the time the line reopens at Dawlish on April 4th 2014.”