Roadworks for south Devon bypass closes railway lines
No trains are running on two sections of rail line in Devon because of major construction work on a new bypass road.
The main line between Newton Abbot and Totnes and the Paignton and Newton Abbot branch line will reopen on Friday 21 March.
The tracks are being lifted to install a drainage culvert between the two lines for the South Devon link road.
The work has been brought forward to coincide with the main line closure at Dawlish.
The line, which connects the far south-west of England to the rest of the country, was destroyed in storms in February.
It is expected to reopen on 4 April, so the bypass contractor Galliford Try wants the culvert work done while the repair work at Dawlish is still under way, to avoid another closure later in the year.
A bus replacement service will operate while the lines are closed.
The South Devon link road is a three mile (5.5km) dual carriageway which will link Torbay and Newton Abbot, bypassing Kingskerswell.
It is due to be completed by December 2015.
Galliford Try says the culvert work is an "intrinsic" part of a flood alleviation system that comes with the bypass.
The company said it was sorry it has not been possible to give rail passengers more advance notice of the closures, because of the time it has taken to acquire the necessary permissions to bring the work forward.
"It's happened in a very short period of time, so we apologise for that, but what we're attempting to do is reduce the disruption," spokesman Jim Watson said.
Gordon Edwards from the passenger group Travel Watch South West, said while he appreciated the culvert work was necessary, he was concerned about the long-term impact yet another rail closure could have.
"What we need is a major marketing campaign and maybe some special fare offers to bring passengers back," he said.
"What worries me is the number of people who, until the end of January were travelling every day by train in Devon, but have now made alternative travel arrangements."