The West Coast main line north of Carlisle will remain closed for several days after eight feet of water flooded the railway in the wake of Storm Desmond.
The depth of the water, around two miles north of Carlisle station, has reached its peak but is not expected to clear until Tuesday. A full assessment of the damage will take place as soon as the water recedes and everything done to reopen the railway as quickly as possible. A number of safety-critical cabinets, which house complex electrical equipment, are currently submerged and will have to rebuilt once it is safe to do so.
A statement from Network Rail said representatives inspected the railway via helicopter and have been working around the clock to on the ground to clear trees, landslips and repair flood damage to keep as much as possible of the railway open.
A number of emergency speed restrictions are in place as the network recovers from the impact of Storm Desmond.
Martin Frobisher, Network Rail's route managing director, said: ‘The unprecedented amount of rainfall and high winds have taken a significant toll on the railway and we are working round the clock to keep as much of the network open and repair the damage that has been caused.
‘North of Carlisle station we have to wait for eight feet of water to recede before we can carry out extensive safety checks and repairs – including rebuilding a host of complex electrical and signaling equipment which is currently underwater. This, coupled with dozens of other sites which have been flooded or damaged, means we have a lot of work to do to ensure the railway is safe and able to be used.
‘We care about passengers and will do everything we can to reopen the West Coast main line as quickly as possible. I thank passengers for their patience during this difficult time and can assure them we are working with the train operators to provide the best possible information. I urge anyone planning to travel in the North West in the coming days to check for the latest information before they set off.’