RAIL companies Great Western Railway (GWR) and Crosscountry Trains have warned passengers from Cornwall planning to travel to and from Exeter and beyond today that a severe weather warning for this evening may force the closure of the coastal stretch of mainline through Teignmouth and Dawlish.

The same stretch of line had to be closed during stormy weather earlier in the week due to waves overtopping the famous sea-wall stretch of line.

As for today, GWR – which runs trains from the South West to London Paddington – says that current weather forecasts suggest a combination of high winds and a higher than normal tide are likely in the Dawlish area between 6.30pm and 7.30pm at the earliest, meaning that for safety all services may have to be cancelled between Newton Abbot and Exeter. It is therefore advising rail passengers to make their journeys before this evening if possible.

Meanwhile, Crosscountry Trains – which runs services from Penzance and Plymouth to the Midlands, North of England and Scotland – says that it will not be operating its trains between Newton Abbot and Exeter between 3.30pm and 9.30pm today, with the exception of the 4.25pm Plymouth to Leeds service, which will run as scheduled.

Otherwise, Cross-country Trains says: ‘There will be road transport operating between Exeter St Davids and Newton Abbot in both directions, taking approximately 85 minutes. There is no timetable for these buses currently; staff will be available at stations to assist with onward journeys. Rail services will be available between Newton Abbot, Plymouth and Penzance.

‘Road transport will also operate non-stop services between Tiverton Parkway and Plymouth, taking approximately 80 minutes. These buses are showing online journey planners, such as National Rail Enquiries, to allow customers to plan their journeys. Passengers for Plymouth should leave their CrossCountry service at Tiverton Parkway and board the next available replacement bus service at 35 minutes past each hour. 

‘Great Western Railway will accept CrossCountry customers on their services after 3.30pm at no extra charge.

‘We are constantly monitoring the weather conditions for updates and, should the situation change, we will update this page with advice, including alternative travel arrangements.’

On its website GWR says regarding the weather warning for Dawlish area: ‘While it is possible this forecast could change, we would encourage customers planning to travel through the area this evening to travel earlier if possible. Customers with reservations for a particular train will be able to travel on trains earlier the day.

‘We would expect trains to run outside this area to continue to run and rail replacement bus services will operate between intermediate stations. Journey times are expected to be extended by up to an hour, depending on road conditions.

‘Network Rail will be monitoring weather conditions carefully, and we will let customers know if the situation changes.’

GWR says it plans to continue operating trains between London Paddington and Exeter St Davids, and also between Newton Abbot, Plymouth and Penzance. It also hopes to continue running trains between Newton Abbot and Paignton and Exeter and Exmouth.

However, it warns that services may have to be cancelled at short notice or delayed, depending on conditions on the ground. Customers should check before they travel for the very latest information.

It adds: ‘The anticipated heavy rain and high winds may also impact the rail services that GWR is able to operate, potentially leading to longer journey times and further short notice cancellations.

‘Those with tickets to travel on Friday, November 9 (i.e. today), will be able to use their tickets to travel on Saturday, November 10 (tomorrow); customers with pre-purchased Advance and Off-Peak, and Super Off-Peak tickets will be able to travel on earlier services, and customers who choose not to travel will be entitled to a refund.

‘GWR tickets will also be valid on a host of other transport providers, including local buses and alternative train routes.’

For further information about today’s weather warning and alternative transport on which pre-booked GWR tickets are valid, see https://www.gwr.com/about-us/media-centre/info

Cross-country Trains says: ‘Customers who travel today and are subsequently delayed by 30 minutes or more may be entitled to Delay Repay compensation. Alternatively, customers who do not travel and do not use their tickets due to the disruption, can apply for a full refund for their unused tickets from their point of purchase, without an administration charge.

‘If you have any questions about how your journey may be affected, you can also tweet us @CrossCountryUK or message us via Facebook Messenger, where we are available 24 hours a day.’

For more details on Cross-country Trains services during the weather warning see https://www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk/weather