Cowley Bridge flooding 'can not be stopped' but 'services can be recovered much quicker' says Network Rail boss
Network Rail bosses have said they can not stop the Cowley Bridge line flooding but can work on the recovery time of services once floods have subsided.
A transport conference was held at the County Hall today to discuss the measures, which include making changes to culverts and drainage systems, and raising signalling equipment off the ground so that it's not affected by flood water.
Track owner Network Rail said it planned to improve line resilience to allow flooding to be cleared and services resume as quickly as possible.
Mike Gallop, from Network Rail, said: "The flooding was a very serious event which caused a significant disruption to the travelling public.
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"What we are looking at how is how we can improve network resilience between Taunton and Cowley Bridge.
"That's not prevention - we do not believe we can stop it flooding.
"Our proposition is that, once floods have subsided, we can start to recover services much quicker and more effectively than we did at Christmas.
"We're looking at improving tracks, improving embankments, and improving their draining.
"We're also looking at making the signalling system more robust by raising it, so it doesn't get damaged by water."
Campaign group Rail Future had suggested culverts at the bridge being increased to stop flooding of the line.
Network Rail said it was working with the Environment Agency and the government on the situation and a report would give its findings at the end of March.
Disruptions caused by extreme weather to the region's road and rail network are said to have cost Westcountry businesses￼ £167 million.
A full report on improvement proposals is due at the end of March.
There will be a public exhibition in Exeter's Guildhall shopping￼ centre this week of plans to reduce the city's flood risk.
Organised by the Environment Agency, Exeter City Council and Devon County Council, the exhibition will be held on Friday, March 22, from 10am to 6pm, and Saturday, March 23, from 10am to noon.
Video: Engineering work at Cowley Bridge. Video by Mike Yearworth.