The sole rail line linking southwest England to the rest of Britain, washed into the sea last month, will reopen on April 4, the Department for Transport said.
Work to restore a 100-meter (330-feet) gap in the Dawlish seawall in Devon along which the Great Western line runs has progressed faster than expected and should enable through trains to start operating again in time for schools’ Easter break.
“I saw for myself the scale of the damage to the line at Dawlish caused by the recent exceptionally bad weather,” Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said in a statement on his department’s website. “Today’s confirmation that the line should now be back in operation before the Easter holidays will be a real boost for local communities and businesses.”
Storms that lashed Britain destroyed the Dawlish defenses that protected the route for 150 years, leaving track dangling above the waves and isolating most of Devon and neighboring Cornwall, including Plymouth with 250,000 people.
Almost 5,000 metric tons of concrete and 150 tons of steel have been used to fix the gap in the seawall, the department said, and 200 meters of new track is ready for installation.
There are 300 engineers working on the project who are continuing to repair the walls and renewing 13 miles of cables between Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth, it said.