Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Rail station for flood-hit town

Collapsed A597 Northside Bridge in Workington
Workington has been split in two by collapsed and closed bridges

A flood-hit Cumbrian town split in two by the collapse and closures of its bridges is to be "reconnected" with a temporary railway station.

Residents in Workington have been left with no direct road connection since devastating flooding on Friday.

The only way to cross the River Derwent has been from the town's south side station, with northbound trains next stopping in Flimby four miles away.

Network Rail is to start work on a north side station on Tuesday night.

The move comes as people in Cumbria brace themselves for more heavy rain - with up to 100mm (3.9in) predicted to fall on areas of high ground.

Six bridges have already collapsed in Cumbria as a result of the flooding, causing major transport and logistical problems for thousands of people.

Rescue workers search Cockermouth High Street in a boat on Friday morning
Cumbria Police casualty bureau: 0800 0560944 or 0207 1580010
Floodline number 0845 988 1188
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Cumbria County Council is warning Workington residents that if the closed Calva Bridge collapses 11,000 homes north of the River Derwent would lose their telephone connection.

Pc Bill Barker, 44, was swept to his death when the town's A597 Northside Bridge was destroyed on Friday.

A fortnight's worth of passengers boarded services at the exisiting Workington station on Monday.

Road journeys between the two halves of the town currently involve a more than 30-mile detour.

The new station will be built on wasteland just over half a mile from the existing station.

The two-platform station, linked by a footbridge, will have lighting, a waiting room and a gravel car park, and will be built and ready for its first passengers by the weekend.

Robin Gisby, Network Rail operations and customer services director, said: "We have a wealth of experience and engineering expertise that we felt should be put at the disposal of the Cumbrian authorities.

"Our people will work round the clock on this project."

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said the authority was "urgently working" on options to reconnect the north and south of Workington by using a temporary road bridge.

He said it was likely that a military bridge would not be suitable for local traffic and that the county council's civil engineers were working on possible solutions.

Severe warning

A footbridge known as the Old Railway Bridge in the port of Workington is also structurally unstable and the public must not attempt to cross the river by foot here.

The Environment Agency said the downpour on Tuesday could further raise river levels and bring more flooding.

However, river levels are not expected to return to those which brought devastation to areas on Friday.

Matt Crump, of the Environment Agency, speaking after the Met Office issued a severe weather warning for the county, said: "Normally 4in of rain in Cumbria at this time of year would give us some concern.

"Obviously after torrential rain at the end of last week the ground is very saturated and the rivers and the lakes are extremely full.

"That means we do have some concerns that there will be a certain amount of additional flooding, but it is unlikely that this will be as extensive as last week."

He said the agency had prepared for the next band of rain by shoring up flood defences and removing obstructions from water courses.

The agency has 17 flood warnings in place - 10 in north-west England, five in Wales, one in the Midlands and one for north-east England.

Map showing bridge closures and collapses in Cumbria
Collapsed Bridges: 1. Northside Bridge, Workington 2. Navvies Footbridge, Workington 3. Camerton Footbridge, Camerton 4. Memorial Gardens footbridge, Cockermouth 5. Low Lorton Bridge 6. Little Braithwaite Bridge 7. Camerton Church Bridge, Camerton
Closed bridges: 8. Calva Bridge, Workington 9. Goat Bridge, Cockermouth 10.Holmrook Bridge, Holmrook 11. Ouse Bridge, north of Dubwath 12. Isel Bridge, near Cockermouth 13. Cocker Bridge, Cockermouth 14. Southwaite Bridge 15. Broughton Bridge 16. Bridge End, Egremont 17. Spark Bridge 18. Backbarrow Bridge (off A590) 19. Bouthrey Bridge, Water Yeat 20. Station Road Bridge, Keswick 21. Scarness Bridge, Keswick 22. Scale Hill Bridge, Scale Hill 23. Greta Bridge, Keswick 24. Wath Bridge, Cleator Moor
Source: Cumbria County Council, 24 November

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