Network Rail has begun works to install a £9.5m flood defence programme in a bid to safeguard the railway line between Exeter and Salisbury.

Two underground bridge structures made of culvert sections, weighing 550 tonnes, will be installed on sites at Axe Farm and Broom Lane underneath the railway line at Axe Valley.

With the installation of two hollow concrete rectangular structures, the chance of flooding will reduce from a one in five-year risk to a one in twenty-year risk based on the flood risk modelling.

The line running between Axminster and Crewkerne has seen floods in recent years leading to delays and disruption in services.

“This £9.5m investment will significantly reduce the risk of the line flooding in the Axe Valley, benefiting passengers and the local community for many years to come.”

Network Rail project manager Rebecca Wells said: “Flooding can be devastating for local communities and it’s crucial we do all we can to protect the railway and keep the train service moving.

“This £9.5m investment, part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, will significantly reduce the risk of the line flooding in the Axe Valley, benefiting passengers and the local community for many years to come.”

Over 100 members of Network Rail’s ‘team orange’ will be involved in the completion of the project over the next seven months. Work is expected to be completed in December.

Over 9,000 tonnes of soil will be excavated from the site for the flood defence scheme.

Network Rail owns, operates and develops Britain’s railway infrastructure. It has developed 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. It operates 19 of the UK’s largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country’s train operating companies.