Shropshire

Shropshire flooding: Train lines shut amid rising river levels

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Media captionSome residents in Ironbridge have been advised to leave their homes

Rail lines have closed and people have continued to evacuate as river levels continue to rise in Shropshire.

Two severe "danger to life" flood warnings are in place for the River Severn at Shrewsbury and Ironbridge.

Network Rail closed all lines at Shrewsbury station from 14:00 GMT, except for services to and from Chester and Crewe.

Water is pouring over flood barriers in Bewdley, Worcestershire, and there are fears for the same in Ironbridge.

The Environment Agency has warned defences at the Wharfage in the Shropshire town could be breached in the early hours of Wednesday, when the River Severn there is predicted to peak.

'Worst case scenario'

The agency's Dave Throup tweeted the breach in Beales Corner, Bewdley, was not at the main demountable defences in Severnside, but urged people to avoid the area.

West Mercia Police said residents who might be affected had been told and the force added the situation would be monitored overnight by fire crews and agency officials.

Image copyright Environment Agency
Image caption Water began pouring over these flood defences in Bewdley on Tuesday evening

Water levels in Ironbridge have now exceeded those seen last week and could reach up to 7m (22.9ft) overnight, the agency warned - making the river nearly 3m (9.8ft) deeper than it was on Sunday.

Ch Supt Tom Harding, from West Mercia Police, said: "We are particularly concerned this evening that those barriers [at the Wharfage] are going to be overtopped.

"We have spoken to all residents who could be impacted - most of which have evacuated."

He encouraged others who had decided not to evacuate to do so as high water levels were expected to remain for up to 48 hours. The force was prepared for the "worse case scenario" with rest centres and lots of staff and resources on the ground, he added.

Image copyright Environment Agency
Image caption People have been been advised to evacuate along the Wharfage, Ironbridge, where the river is expected to peak overnight

A Network Rail spokesman said hourly inspections were carried out on the Severn Viaduct, which carries the majority of lines in and out of Shrewsbury station.

He said: "Flood waters have been very close to the level where we have to close the viaduct for safety reasons."

As the river was expected to rise further, he said the lines would "remain closed until levels have dropped below the closure mark and underwater inspections have been completed".

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Media captionAn ex-Army truck is being used to ferry villagers cut off by floods

Earlier Network Rail tweeted if the station was closed it would be a "once in a generation situation".

At Welsh Bridge in Shrewsbury, the Severn stood at 5.11m at 17:00 GMT on Tuesday, nearly doubling in depth over the past 72 hours.

Image caption Parts of Shrewsbury are affected by flood water

Mr Throup said more rain was on the way, calling it "relentless".

Sarah Holmes, director of Merrythought Village in Ironbridge, said all the businesses had "got together, collaborated and moved equipment upstairs or off-site" ahead of the expected peak.

"Now it's just a waiting game to see how far the river rises and there will obviously be the big clear-up afterwards," she said.

Image copyright Environment Agency
Image caption "Unsettled" weather over a few days may leave river water levels high in Shrewsbury, says the Environment Agency
Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Smithfield Road in Shrewsbury is flooded as the River Severn continues to rise

Shropshire Council chief executive Clive Wright is to step down as the authority battles to deal with floods.

It follows a vote at a meeting of the ruling Conservative group on Monday.

BBC Radio Shropshire political reporter Joanne Gallacher has been told Mr Wright's response to the flooding was one of the reasons he was asked to leave.

In a statement circulated to staff, seen by the BBC, Mr Wright said he was leaving his post "with immediate effect" adding it had been "a great privilege" to serve the people of Shropshire.

Image caption Flooding forced shopping centres in Shrewsbury to close

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had rescued residents from a retirement home at Longden Coleham in Shrewsbury on Monday evening as flood waters rose.

The town's three main shopping centres have been closed "for the safety of staff and customers".

A number of schools, colleges and libraries were also closed on Tuesday.

Shrewsbury Town's game at home to Tranmere Rovers went ahead.

"The ground staff have been working very hard on the pitch and despite the recent rainfall it is relatively dry at present and the main surrounding road networks are all reporting no issues, therefore, there are no concerns about the game," a club statement said.

Mark Davies, who owns Darwin's Townhouse bed and breakfast in the town, said his property had been left "devastated" as it flooded for the second time in a week.

"I spent last week pumping everything out and got that straight on Sunday, flopped down and then found on Monday morning we were back to square one again," he said.

Riverside car parks in Worcester have been closed as river levels in the city rose "rapidly".

Worcestershire County Council urged people parked in the Cattlemarket, Croft Road, Newport Street, Pitchcroft, or Tybridge Street car parks to move their vehicles or risk being stranded.

Image caption Water levels were rising at the English Bridge in Shrewsbury on Tuesday morning

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