The UK’s Network Rail has confirmed that the reopening of the South West’s main Dawlish rail link will be delayed by further two weeks, due to the impact of damage caused by storms.

The railway operator had earlier estimated that the line would be reopened within six weeks or by middle of March.

The West Country’s main rail line has remained closed for nearly two weeks, after the winter storms cut off the rail link between Cornwall, Plymouth and the rest of the UK.

"It reflects how important it is that we can connect to the rest of the UK."

On 14 February, the storm had caused additional damage to the sea wall with a further 10m to 20m destroyed, delaying the progress to repairs at Dawlish until after 11 April and the beginning of the Easter holidays.

Other major reported delays on many rail services in the country include Arriva Trains Wales, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, First Great Western (FGW), London Midland, South West Trains, Southeastern and Southern.

The tourism industry in Devon and Cornwall fears that the delay would result in huge losses for the region’s economy.

Devon and Cornwall Business Council chairman Tim Jones told the BBC: "Between £2m and £20m a day was being lost from those businesses who relied on the rail network.

"It’s a huge variation but it reflects how important it is that we can connect to the rest of the UK and particularly London."