Network Rail has confirmed that work on Phase 3 of the flood alleviation scheme for Feniton, due to be carried out next month (October) cannot take place

East Devon District Council has just been advised by Network Rail that Phase 3 of the Feniton Flood Alleviation Scheme cannot be undertaken as planned next month (October 2019).

Phase 3 involves a 52 hour weekend track closure to facilitate major excavation works to create a new culvert and the installation of a 1m drainage pipe beneath the rail track. The drainage pipe will connect up to the already completed phases 1 and 2 to take away any flood water from people and properties.

Because of unacceptable financial compensation risks to the council should these works overrun, Network Rail is managing phase 3 and has tendered the work on East Devon’s behalf. Having reviewed the delivery programmes submitted by the suppliers, Network Rail feels there would be an unacceptable risk to the hand back of the operational railway, which is subject to a strict time scale

Network Rail has advised the council that post tender negotiations with the suppliers are required, which means that the October track closure window will now be missed. This is so that they can secure the necessary assurances and clarification on construction methodologies, road closures and viable track management.

Network Rail understandably needs to be satisfied that the chosen contractor can undertake the work to a standard that ensures the train timetable is not interrupted after the track closure. The consequences of work overrunning is hugely costly and both Network Rail and East Devon need to mitigate the risk of being fined if works overrun.

East Devon is now prioritising finding a new future track closure date for the works and will consider how phase 4 of the scheme can be progressed, so that the entire project can be commissioned when the excavation work is complete.

The design work for Phase 4 was due to be undertaken this winter, with the actual construction of Phase 4 of the flood alleviation scheme taking place in spring 2020 when the weather is warmer (which means the work can be done more quickly with less disruption to local residents). Construction of the channels to intercept flood water upstream of the village, and construction of the remainder of the culvert to link the sections (phases 1 and 2) have already been completed.

Cllr Susie Bond, Feniton ward member, said:

It was immensely disappointing that Network Rail has been unable to reach agreement with its own contractors after a whole year of delay on this phase of the flood scheme. I urge NR to resolve matters as soon as possible so that phase 3 can be undertaken before April 2020 at the absolute latest.