Trains have started running on the Cumbrian Coast line again after three consecutive storms forced the railway to close earlier this year.

Northern services resumed on the line from yesterday, Monday 1 June after Network Rail completely replaced a railway bridge damaged beyond repair at Parton by Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge in March.

For the last 11 weeks the railway between Whitehaven and Workington has been closed so that the bridge could be made safe and reliable again.

Network Rail teams have now successfully replaced the damaged underpass beneath the railway, strengthened the sea wall and re-laid the track.

While trains can now run on the line between Workington and Whitehaven, Network Rail teams expect to be on site for four more weeks to finish work to improve fencing and landscaping in the surrounding area.

Phil James, Route Director for Network Rail’s North West Route, said: “The scale of the storm damage on the railway at Parton was significant, and I’m pleased that the Cumbrian Coast line is now available for essential passenger and freight services.

“Our teams have worked tremendously hard over the last 11 weeks to get the railway back up and running, and the upheaval that Covid-19 has caused in that time makes the focus and teamwork demonstrated by colleagues all the more impressive.”

While the railway was closed, work on sea defences scheduled for later this year was brought forward to minimise future disruption to passengers and freight.

More than 36,000 tonnes of rock armour has been installed to protect the exposed section of coastal railway and mean more reliable journeys in the future.

Later in June, the line between Millom and Sellafield will be closed for 9 days due to planned work to renew the track at Eskmeals, near Ravenglass for Eskdale station.

Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern, said: “It’s great to be able to welcome our customers back onto trains along the whole of the Cumbrian Coast. Network Rail has done a fantastic job in not only repairing the damage, but also making improvements to the existing infrastructure.

“Our customers have already shown remarkable patience while the work was completed, but I ask them to please continue to be understanding as we work through the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

“Though our trains have returned, capacity on those trains is significantly reduced as we try to help people socially distance while travelling.

“Only essential journeys should be made by rail and I am asking everyone to consider if their journey is absolute necessary and, if not, please leave spaces for those who have to travel.”

Passengers should continue following Government guidelines around the use of public transport, and only travel if they have to.