Network Rail and council in talks over line closure to enable Phase 4 works to take place
East Devon District Council is currently having discussions with Network Rail over the closure of the Exeter to Waterloo line, which will need to be closed for 28 hours to allow the installation of a storm water pipe beneath the line east of the bridge at Green Lane, Feniton. The pipe forms Phase 3 of the Feniton Flood Alleviation Scheme and Phase 4 will connect to this section once it is in place. Phase 4 is the last part of the flood alleviation scheme which will reduce the risk of flooding to over 70 properties. The scheme could be complete in 2019 if this rail closure can be agreed.
Network rail and the council are deciding how best to manage the rail closure and any related risks to the rail network. This will involve agreeing a Basic Asset Protection Agreement (BAPA), which relates to the closure of the line and includes the costs that the council could potentially be liable for should the rail possession time be exceeded. This document will need to be signed by both East Devon and Network Rail. East Devon were due to apply for a line closure in October, but we could not accept the risk of incurring charges of several thousand pounds per minute if the works exceeded the closure window. The council is negotiating with Network Rail to reduce the risk to East Devon taxpayers and to reach a mutually agreeable way forwards.
Once an agreement with Network Rail has been reached, the council will commence tendering for Phase 4. The council hopes to have agreed a way forwards with Network Rail by March 2017 and to have started the final phase of construction later that year.
Councillor Iain Chubb, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for the environment, said:
With Phases 1 and 2 already complete, I am keen to see an agreement reached so we can move forward with Phase 4. The completion of this scheme is critical in order that the residents of Feniton can rest easy whenever there is heavy rainfall.
Councillor Peter Bowden, East Devon District Council’s lead councillor for flooding, said:
We are doing our utmost to deliver this vital scheme, so it is frustrating that delays have occurred, which are beyond our control. We are working hard with Network Rail on finding a mutually agreeable way of taking forwards the vital under track crossing to allow us to get on with the final phase of the scheme. We hope to have started construction on the final phase of the scheme by Summer 2017.
Councillor Susie Bond, East Devon District Council’s ward member for Feniton and Buckerell, added:
Along with much of the rest of the country, Feniton suffered another day of flooding this week, and it was only because of the hard work of the volunteer flood warden team that water spilling out of the combined drains didn't get into houses.
This flood scheme has been extraordinarily complex and residents are aware of the considerable hard work of all the agencies involved in getting to this half-way stage. Our MP, Neil Parish, has been instrumental in pushing the scheme forward and we are grateful for his concern in the situation we face in Feniton.