Extent of damage revealed as floodwater recedes on the West Coast main line near Carlisle: Debris strewn across the Caldew Viaduct north of Carlisle

Monday 7 Dec 2015

Extent of damage revealed as floodwater recedes on the West Coast main line near Carlisle

Region & Route:
| National
| North West & Central

Network Rail’s orange army has swung into action to reopen the northern section of the West Coast main line after extensive flooding of the tracks receded overnight.

The railway north of Carlisle was under eight feet of floodwater on Sunday but levels had dropped by mid-morning today (Monday 6 December) to allow engineers access to the railway to begin to assess the extent of the damage.

A thick layer of mud and silt has covered vital safety-critical equipment in eight separate cabinets which were submerged in water for more than 24 hours. There has also been extensive damage to track and other lineside equipment as well as to fencing and buildings.

However many of the lines which were blocked over the weekend have reopened after hundreds of the orange army worked around the clock to clear landslips and damage caused by high winds and heavy rain.

Services are now running between Workington and Carnforth via Barrow; from Carnforth to Skipton; from Appleby to Carlisle; and on the West Coast main line between Preston and Carlisle.

Now the flood water has receded, the focus is on reopening the West Coast main line north of Carlisle. A clearer picture of timescales will emerge once safety checks and repair plans have been completed.

Debbie Francis from Network Rail said: “Now the floodwater has gone our track workers and engineers are on the railway to assess the extent of the damage. There is an inch-thick thick layer of mud on much of our safety-critical equipment and eight electrical cabinets have been submerged in water for more than 24 hours which will require a huge amount of work to rebuild and bring back into use.

“We have hundreds of staff working round-the-clock to keep as much of the railway open as possible. This will continue so we can reopen the West Coast main line as quickly as we can.

“We care about getting passengers where they’re going safely, and I’d like to thank them for their patience during this difficult time. As soon as there is more detailed information, we will make sure they are fully informed.”

There is still some disruption on certain lines notably between Settle and Carlisle; on the route north of Carlisle; between Carlisle and Workington; and from Carlisle to Hexham. Engineers are working to return services to normal as quickly as possible. 

Passengers are advised to check www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest information before travelling.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - North West & Central Region
07740 782954

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk