On the railway, we’re very familiar with the idea of history repeating itself. And at the end of August, for residents in the South West of England, that’s what it felt like after a bridge strike east of Plymouth on 30 August severed the only main line serving the city and onward into Cornwall.
The February 2014 storm which washed away the railway at Dawlish will live long in the memory for all of us, but especially for residents of the South West peninsula. On that occasion the damage was long lasting – the railway was shut for two months while Network Rail went about a heroic repair effort, one which it is building on now in a resilience programme which will take many years to implement.
This time the problem was resolved more quickly –a repair effort no less heroic meant single line working across the bridge was put in place the following day, allowing one train per hour to operate in each direction (see box), and the line reopened fully on 4 September.