Rail bosses announce probe into flooding at Lancashire town

A major investigation is to get underway to find out why railway lines and homes keep flooding in a Lancashire town.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 3:45 pm

During periods of heavy rain, floodwater repeatedly delays rail passengers and damages properties and farmland in Burscough.

Network Rail is now working with Lancashire County Council and local MP Rosie Cooper to find out why this keeps happening.

The £50,000 six-month study, which vegins in May, will map water pressures in the Crabtree Lane area of the town.

Landslip damage at Burscough, caused by flooding, A survey is to begin in May 2021 in a bid to discover why the rail line and the town, in West Lancashire, are so badly affected by flooding. Picture courtesy Network Rail

It’s hoped this can then better inform drainage authorities and landowners on what can be done to manage flooding caused by bad weather before it can cause any issues.

Rick Hellings, senior drainage and off-track engineer at Network Rail, said: “In recent years, flooding at Crabtree Lane has impacted people’s homes, farmers’ land and the railway. We want to put an end to this flooding misery for businesses, residents and passengers.

“Our £50,000 flood risk study is the first step to understanding how water drains in the area and the measures that could be introduced by authorities and landowners to fix the problem.”

Coun Albert Atkinson, cabinet member with responsibility for flood risk management at Lancashire County Council, said: “Understanding the often complex circumstances which lead to flooding in a particular local area is the first step in being able to mitigate the risk of it occurring in future. Lancashire County Council’s Surface Water Management Plan for Burscough has set the scene for various more detailed studies, and it helps organisations and local people to understand, manage and reduce flood risks around the village.

Rail mounted crane installing pipes to pump away Burscough flood water. A survey is to begin in May 2021 in a bid to discover why the rail line and the town, in West Lancashire, are so badly affected by flooding. Picture courtesy Network Rail

“I welcome the study that Network Rail proposes into the detail of the drainage around the Crabtree Lane area, and look forward to working with them on options to improve the situation once their first stage of work is completed.”

Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, said: “Residents in the area will be relieved to hear that these flooding issues are finally being investigated after so many years. Whilst this is a welcome step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go.

“Once the report is complete, Lancashire County Council must seriously consider the findings to implement a real and proper solution which will protect both residents’ homes and the railway.”

In this part of West Lancashire, water is managed by a complex system of dykes, ditches, pumping stations and pipes – all managed by different authorities and landowners.

In August 2019, heavy rainfall flooded properties at Crabtree Lane and forced this section of the railway to close while engineers made emergency repairs to a damaged drain.

Once complete, the study will be presented to Lancashire County Council as the lead local flood authority.

The £50,000 investment by Network Rail is in addition to the public safety improvements it’s proposing at Shaw and Crabtree level crossings in the town, which were announced in February.

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