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Like the waters themselves, the concerns about flooding have receded. Despite last night’s atrocious weather the Calder didn’t burst its banks overnight. Today the rain has eased and storm Dennis didn’t produce much menace for us.

That said, South Wales has taken a pounding and Pontypridd has flooded.

Right now I’m on a train from Sowerby Bridge that’s heading to Hebden Bridge (where trains to Blackpool North are terminating due to planned engineering work) we’re running late and right now we’re at a stand just West of the Sowerby tunnel at the 27m 35 chain mark due to lineside flooding! Water has been running down the hillside and the driver’s got out to check to see that the ballast hasn’t been washed away, affecting the stability of the track. Having returned, she seems unsure. This may be a short trip!


Our Driver and Conductor are now waiting for advice from Control on what to do next. In the meantime, we sit and wait…


To add insult to injury a Class 195 has just passed us at speed in the opposite direction! There’s only 12 of us passengers aboard this 2 car Class 158. Presumably, most people have made the sensible decision to stay at home today. Good for them – not so good for the many businesses along the line that rely on travellers.


Our Conductor has just informed us that Network Rail have a MOM (Mobile Operations Manager) on site inspecting the track, so we should know our fate soon…


The MOM has requested extra staff as they’re going to dig a drainage ditch to divert the water from the track. In the meantime, we sit and wait. If only this was a Class 195 I was stuck on. I could have had wifi and got on with some work!


We’re finally on the move, heading for Mytholmroyd…


At last I’m on the way to Manchester! The train I was on was terminating at at Hebden Bridge before heading back to York. Following on behind it was a Manchester bound service. Nowadays, due to the December timetable change and deletion of stops Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd travellers are forced to change at Hebden more often.


Well, that was an interesting couple of hours! After passing through Todmorden and seeing the lineside flooding I abandoned my intention of going to Manchester and bailed out of the train at Walsden – just in time to get caught in a hailstorm! For the best part of a couple of minutes it hammered down. For once, the line hadn’t flooded at this point. I managed to grab a couple of shots of Eastbound workings but everything heading West was cancelled so I decided to get some exercise and walk back to Todmorden to check out a couple of locations. The amount of homes along the road that had flood barriers across their front doors told the tale. The valley around Gauxholme is steep and narrow, which provides ample opportunities for flooding, especially as the river’s been hemmed in and constrained by centuries of human activity. I headed for a footbridge over the railway just West of the railway station where I’d spotted lineside flooding. It was quite a sight when I got there as you can see from this picture.

The culvert you can see here passes under the railway and empties out into the Rochdale canal which is 100m out of shot to the left. It’s not neglected. The steep approach off the hill to the left was relined just a couple of years ago and the parapet and railings were put in at the same time. But it’s been blocked by debris washing down off the hill and through the woods so water has spilled onto the tracks, washing away the ballast and breaching the formation to the right of the alignment just inside the fence. It’s also running along the left hand track, trying to find a way across.

Here’s a close-up of the culvert. I have to say, I’m not sure that was the best place to locate some equipment cabinets! The water from the blocked culvert is flooding past them.

Here’s a closer view of the damage the flood water has done to the trackbed. It’s actually washed away part of it and deposited a large amount of ballast and other material on the other side of the fence, where I’m standing. Nearby, homeowners have built makeshift dams to divert the water away from their homes and into the canal.
Water from the blocked culvert seeping through the trackbed. The potential for damage here is obvious as the weight of water can easily cause the formation to shift.

Our Victorian railways simply weren’t designed to withstand this weight of floodwater and rebuilding them to do so would be a horrendously expensive task. I hate to think how much it would cost (and the level of disruption it would cause) just to widen this one culvert.