The sleeper service has not been running since the end of January and will now get back to normal operation with services back in full swing for Sunday to Friday evenings.
Network Rail engineers have carried out vital piling work which meant that the railway had to be closed overnight. The work comes as part of Network Rail’s £37.4m resilience project to build a rockfall shelter extension north of Parson’s Tunnel which is located between Dawlish and Holcombe.
The project was already underway when engineers established that the condition of the ground was not sufficient to allow the piling work to be carried out safely from the side of the railway and meant that the work had to be carried out via a specialist piling rig from the track. As a direct effect of these essential changes, the railway line from Exeter St. David’s to Teignmouth had to be closed through the night for 8 weeks to allow the work to be carried out safely.
The project also forms part of Network Rail’s comprehensive South West Rail Resilience Programme (SWRRP) which aims to protect the key rail artery to the south west, building a more reliable train service for the future.
Mark Hopwood, GWR Managing Director, said:
“Our Night Riviera sleeper service is extremely popular and provides an important link between London and Devon and Cornwall and we are sorry for the disruption that this vital engineering work has caused.
“By carrying out the work when the Night Riviera sleeper service is quieter means it has caused the least disruption to our customers and now means it is ready for the busy spring and summer period.”
Mike Gallop, Network Rail Western route and strategic operations director, said:
“I would like to thank passengers for their patience while we have progressed important piling work at Parson’s Tunnel, which has prevented the Sleeper Service from running as normal over the past eight weeks.
“The safety of both our engineering teams and passengers is paramount and while it was frustrating to have to temporarily close the railway overnight, this was the only option to enable our teams to complete their work safely.
“This is a critical project for the south west which once complete, will help protect trains against falling rocks along this vital stretch of railway.”