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Landslip as at noon on Monday 08 February 2016Photo © 2016

SDR Statement 12 February 2016

“February half-term ‘Winter steam festival’ to go ahead as originlly planned.

Landslip Cleared
The South Devon Railway has issued the following update on recent events: “The landslip clearance work has progressed really well since Monday’s clean-up began in earnest. The line is now clear of material, with the downed trees cut up and the mud dug back to approximately eight feet from the trackside so that the line is again passable by trains, and we’re now continuing to make the surrounding area good.”

“We have additional staff on site today ( 10th February 2016 ) working with the regular track gang at the landslip site with installation of cross drains and digging out ballast beds to release any pressure or water from the landwards side of the track.”

“We will also be pegging out the area with markers which can be used to check for any further movement. If it’s felt necessary, there will perhaps be a temporary 5 mph speed restriction on the site over the weekend, maybe with a “site warden” present as an additional safeguard who will be armed with flags and safety equipment and so able to stop trains if it were necessary.”


Pfress release 09 February 2016:

Ongoing ‘Storm Imogen’ damage and flooding has disrupted many rail services in the last few days, but the latest casualty is the steam-operated South Devon Railway (SDR) whose February half-term ‘Winter steam festival’ has been put at risk after a landslip blocked the seven-mile line.

The landslip, affecting around 20 yards of track, took place sometime over the weekend of 6th & 7th February after staff undertaking a line inspection on Monday found their way blocked by fallen trees, soil and stone near milepost 1½ between Totnes and Staverton near Woodville. The rest of the line was also inspected yesterday but no significant damage found.

The SDR had been busy this week getting ready to run steam train services for the nine days of the February half term ‘Winter steam festival’, but workers are now having to work against the clock to clear and repair the tracks in time. The railway usually carries several thousand people over the line during the February holiday period, so any loss of trains would be a big blow to the charity.

But, subject to the weather and no more damage occurring, the SDR is very hopeful that all trains will run from Saturday 13th February to Sunday 21st February, and says it will confirm this later in the week after the area is cleared of debris and the necessary safety inspections have been carried out.

The Railway’s Refreshment Rooms and Expressway Model shop will be open as normal. But, if the track and bankside repairs cannot be completed in time for the February gala to take place from this coming weekend, the SDR will reopen as soon as possible next week.

The SDR suffered another serious landslip two years ago on Boxing Day 2013 which resulted in an enforced six-week closure of the line whilst several hundred tons of mud, stone and trees were removed and new drains and track installed.

SDR Railway Manager Chris Williams comments: “We had been busy getting ready for our ‘Winter steam festival’, but our plans have now been changed by the current bad weather, courtesy of Storm Imogen, which caused a landslip that blocked the line between Totnes and Staverton, near Woodville.”

“Thankfully, the landslip is relatively small compared to the one of 2013, but is in a fairly inaccessible place. It will take some time to clear and re-instate the track fully, and carry out safety inspections of the slipped bank-side, but we are very hopeful of running as planned from this coming weekend subject to the weather of course!”

“Our team is working very hard to repair the damage quickly so we can reopen in time so that visitors can come to the railway and then enjoy taking in some steamy fresh February air and scenery with us. ”

“We’ve got the news out about the potential problem today, and the possibility of having to suspend some of our train services, as fast as we could to local radio, TV, our website and via social media, and will be issuing further updates in the next few days. ”

“Thankfully, we know from our past experience that almost all of our visitors will accept, understand and sympathise with our problem, and we’ve already had nice messages of support. ”

“The full scale of the landslip, the time required to restore the damage, plus the repair costs, are as yet unknown, but we are hopeful that it’s nothing like as bad as last time just over two years ago. The railway will doubtless be talking to our insurers about this.”

“All of our supporters and friends can keep up to date with progress via regular updates on our website and Facebook and Twitter pages.”

“This situation could change if we suffer more torrential rain and winds in the next few days and more of the bank gives way, but we are confident that we can deal with the current landslip in time.”

The news will be a shock to many local people and visitors who regularly enjoy the scenic ride down the valley of the river Dart from the comfort of a warm steam train at the start of the new running season.

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