Dawlish rail line: Closure 'costs economy up to £1.2bn'
The destruction of the main railway line connecting Devon and Cornwall to the rest of the UK could have cost the economy up to £1.2bn in the two months it was closed, a report has claimed.
The tracks were left dangling in mid-air at Dawlish exactly a year ago after storms battered the country.
The Devon Maritime Forum said "all industries were hit" by the destruction of the line in February 2014.
A 300-strong team rebuilt the track which reopened in April.
The forum, which is behind the report, said the economic impact, which includes the tourist and fishing industries, is estimated to be anything from £60m to £1.2bn.
Dawlish line rebuild in numbers
- 6,000 tonnes of concrete
- 150 tonnes of steel
- 25,000 tonnes of collapsed cliff removed at Teignmouth
- Hundreds of tonnes of debris removed
- 600m of parapet wall repaired
- More than 13 miles of new cable installed
- More than 700m of track and ballast replaced
Source: Network Rail
It said there was a £135m reduction in holiday spending in the first half of 2014, compared with the same period from the previous year, and Brixham Fish Market experienced a £3m reduction in sales in spring 2014, compared with the previous spring.
The report states that the impact of the images of the winter storms were as "powerful and devastating, economically, as the physical impacts of the storms themselves".
Dr Stephen Gilbert, the forum co-ordinator said the "famous image of the hanging line at Dawlish" gave the impression Devon and the South West were closed for business.
Rail replacement services were put in place and the line reopened on 4 April 2014 at a cost of £35m.
Prime Minister David Cameron praised the "Herculean effort" of workers on round-the-clock shifts.
In December, Network Rail won government backing to start looking into alternative routes to the coast-hugging line.
The Devon Maritime Forum was established in 2005 as a strategic county-wide partnership.