Landslip latest - good news!
Following a detailed inspection by a loss adjuster on 6th January 2014, we have received some good news that our insurance policy will cover most of the repair costs and loss of revenue after the recent winter storms not only led to a serious landslip which blocked the line completely from Boxing Day, but also resulted in the suspension of all trains until February.
The landslip blockage of an estimated 500 tons of rock, soil, mud and trees, near milepost 4 ½ between Buckfastleigh and Staverton, forced us to suspend all seven days of our remaining festive period and New Year services resulting in a significant drop in income for the railway and considerable disappointment for several thousand intending passengers.
The landslip took place sometime after the last Santa train on Monday December 23rd and Boxing Day morning when staff undertaking a line safety inspection found their way blocked by the obstruction.
As a result of the insurance inspection, the outline costs, scale, type of work and timescale of the landslip clean up and track repair programme were agreed in principle as the work will now need to be done quickly for the railway to reopen as advertised on 15 February.
Whilst a large part of the damage re-instatement costs and loss of revenue will now be met by insurance cover, we anticipate it will still face a shortfall of up to £15,000 in order to rectify fully all of the problems, install additional drainage which we prudently believe is required to try and prevent future landslip re-occurrences, together with the normal insurance excess figure we have to bear.
As a result, the decision was taken yesterday NOT to launch a major public appeal which had been considered earlier if losses would not be covered by insurance cover, but we will be very pleased to receive any public donations towards its costs.
We were expecting to run steam train services on Boxing Day for the first time in over 50 years - probably the first time since the line was closed to passengers by British Railways in 1958 - so the enforced closure and loss of business and goodwill has been a big blow as we usually carry three to four thousand people over the line after Christmas and into the New Year on its Mince Pie special trains.
SDR Trust Chairman Alan Taylor comments: “The landslip is around 40 yards long, but in a very inaccessible place which is going to make the repairs difficult because it will take some time to clear the debris and then re-instate the track.
“We can only apologise to all of those who came to the railway after Christmas and were disappointed to miss their trip out, but we’d like all of our friends and supporters to come back and see us in February for our two Winter Gala weekends during half-term.
“We’ve also been heartened by the many offers of help and support we’ve had from local people and our supporters, local MP Mel Stride, and a number of other heritage railways, including promises of labour and plant machinery.
“With the majority of the repair costs being thankfully borne by our insurers, we decided that it would be inappropriate to launch a formal public appeal to help us pay for some of these unexpected and unplanned repairs, but we will have a major appeal later in the year for our big planned improvements at Buckfastleigh.
“Any donations can be sent to the railway at Buckfastleigh Station marked ‘Landslip Appeal’ with cheques made payable to the South Devon Railway."
The Gift Aid Form for UK taxpayers will be of even greater advantage to the railway as we can recover the tax paid from such donations. You can also make a donation and obtain further information by calling ius on 01364 644370.
7th January 2014