UPDATE: Engineers ‘hopeful’ for Tarka Line reopening

Rail service could resume on Monday morning pending successful bridge inspection.

THE Tarka railway line could re-open on Monday morning pending further investigation work taking place on the track this weekend.

A spokesperson for Network Rail said engineers had inspected two of four bridges on the line between Barnstaple and Exeter and hoped that the remaining two would be examined by divers once the river flow rate drops.

Spokesperson Chris Denham said the Umberleigh River Viaduct and the Black Viaduct at Great Fisherton Farm needed to be checked for possible scour damage to the foundations of bridge piers and for debris washed up by recent high waters.

He said: “We hoped to be able to check all of the bridges yesterday and tried again today but river flow levels were still too high for the divers to enter safely.

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“The water was flowing at four knots and it needs to be flowing at less than two knots to be safe enough for the divers.

“They are pretty hopeful of being able to get in the water at first light tomorrow (Saturday) as long as we don’t get any more significant rain overnight.

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“If we can check the bridges and they are safe we will then run an engineering train called a ‘tamper’ along the length of the track to check it is in good shape. It will help to settle the ballast and make sure the track is well supported.

“We are hoping to get this done over the weekend and have already managed to deal with the landslip and flooding problems.

“All being well, we could still be on course to resume services on Monday but we would urge travellers to check with First Great Western and National Rail Enquires before attempting to travel.

“We appreciate that people want to be able to take trains again and are working as hard as we can to re-open the service.

“But it has to be safe enough for divers to investigate the bridges and it has to be safe enough to be able to run trains on the track.”

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