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Flood hit rail lines could take ten days to fully repair

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 28, 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron talks with James Rice in Buckfastleigh, as he explains how the floods hit his home PICTURE: Ben Birchall

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Rail services between the Westcountry and the capital are likely to continue to suffer from major disruption for up to ten days in the wake of the floods.

The clean-up operation was yesterday getting under way in earnest across the region as forecasters confirmed the worst of the deluge was over – but a freeze is now forecast.

However, yesterday the Environment Agency warned many rivers were still at dangerously high levels and issued 25 flood warnings and 40 flood alerts.

Network Rail said it planned to open many of the worst affected lines – including that between Tiverton Parkway and Exeter carrying the main route into London Paddington – by 4pm today.

However, because cabling and telecommunications cables had been underwater for the best part of a week, the firm which runs the nation's rail infrastructure, said services would be restricted to two trains per hour and this could last for up to ten days.

Meanwhile the branch lines between Looe and Liskeard and Exeter and Barnstaple were predicted to open this morning.

On the roads, the A39 which had been closed at Perranworthal between Truro and Falmouth when the river burst its banks yesterday re-opened.

Meanwhile in Devon, work was continuing at the Grand Western Canal where last week two 100-foot sections of raised bank collapsed, briefly threatening houses in the village of Halberton.

Engineers have continued working on site and said water levels were continuing to drop.

Devon and Cornwall Police yesterday arranged for a Chinook helicopter to deliver a large pump to a site near to the A361 to enable more water to be removed from the waterway.

In Cornwall, members of the council's environmental assessment teams were continuing to assess roads and bridges throughout the county.

A question mark remained over the safety of a bridge at Roseney Mill over an unclassified road near Luxulyan, which was thought to have been damaged.

In Somerset, which has seen some of the worst flooding, the county council joined forces with the local community foundation to raise funds to help affected families.

The county council has committed to support the charity and to provide £50,000 from its emergency contingency fund to help get the campaign off the ground.

"It is extremely distressing for people who have seen water pour into their homes," said cabinet member David Hall.

"If we can ease the load slightly with some relatively small grants just to help them over the crisis, then that is important and we will react quickly to help."

In Devon, a special prayer has been written for those affected by floods.

The Archdeacon of Exeter, Christopher Futcher, visited Kennford on Monday where dozens of homes were inundated.

He said: "I was impressed with the level of cheerfulness, fortitude and care for each other that is around in this small village community.

The RPSCA said they had also been kept busy and on Monday rescued four Chihuahuas, a Border collie and a German shepherd from a flooded farmhouse in Somerset.

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