Here is the letter from Network Rail's lawyers to the owner of The Cowley Bridge Inn in Exeter. David Jim had applied for compensation after the pub was damaged by floods. He claimed that equipment used by the rail company to protect signalling caused the pub to flood more.
Dear Mr Jim,
Please note that our investigations into this matter are complete. Firstly we must advise that liability cannot rest with our client simply because the flooding has occurred. It must be shown that our clients actions have brought about the flooding if liability is to attach.
In this case, we understand that the flooding in the vicinity was caused when the River Exe burst its banks as a result of severe weather in the area at the time.
In addition, it is noted that our client were taking action at the time to prevent the flood waters from reaching the signal box further up the line. However based upon the footage on the BBC news site, we cannot see that this has caused the flooding to your property as the flow of the water appears to be going past your the inn and over the railway to the other side of the line.
Finally, following research we have completed on the location, it is clear that the inn is and has been susceptible to flooding for hundreds of years.
In light of the above, it does seem clear that the flooding to your property is as a result of severe weather and the location of the property rather than any action taken by our client.
Therefore whilst we have sympathy with the situation, we regret to advise that liability is denied on behalf of our client. We appreciate that this is not the outcome that you had hoped for, but must confirm that we will not be making any offers in relation to this claim. Please note that you are entitled to seek legal advice and/or consult with the citizens advice bureau in regard to this matter.
– Cheryl Byrne, Claims handler, Broadspire a Crawford company
A pub in Exeter that was badly damaged after this winter's severe flooding is still waiting to hear whether there'll be any compensation from Network Rail. The Cowley Bridge Inn is right next to a rail line which was closed for nearly two weeks in November because of flooding to the tracks.
The manager says equipment used by the rail company to protect signalling caused the pub to flood more.
Since Bob Cruwys filmed this report, Network Rail's lawyers have been in touch with the pub owner David Jim denying liability. They say they will not pay any compensation to the pub. Cheryl Byrne, Claims Handler for Broadspire says:
"We regret to advise that liability is denied on behalf of our client. We appreciate that this is not the outcome that you had hoped for, but must confirm that we will not be making any offers in relation to this claim".
The railway line between Exeter and Taunton, which had been affected by flooding at Cowley Bridge Junction, is due to re-open at midday tomorrow. That's 18 hours earlier than expected.
We have learned some lessons from the flooding in November and done some things differently.
There’s nothing that we could do to prevent the River Exe bursting its banks and causing the track damage.
In November it took three or four days to fix the track but nearly three weeks to repair damage to the signalling equipment.
This time we used temporary dams to divert the flow of the water away from the lineside signalling equipment. This is the first time this technology has ever been used on the railway in Britain and it seems to have helped contain the damage well so far.
– Network Rail spokesperson
Network Rail also removed some equipment such as the point operating equipment at Cowley Bridge Junction and kept it dry ready to be put back once the water’s gone down.
Many staff worked over Christmas to help restore the railway as quickly as possible.
Only local services south of Exeter are operating today. The operator First Great Western has confirmed that the disruption will last several days. A section of the track just north of Exeter was seriously damaged yesterday after it became totally submerged.