The Exeter – Plymouth line sustained more damage at Dawlish during another storm on February 14 with a further 10-20m of the sea wall destroyed. The original breach caused by the first storm on February 4 is now 30% bigger with a lesser secondary breach further east.

"The temporary sea wall at Dawlish was swamped by massive seas during the night which battered and damaged the 10-tonne shipping containers forming the temporary sea wall," Network Rail says. An additional four shipping containers were put into place on February 16 to protect the newly damaged section of the sea wall. In all around 80m of sea wall has been destroyed causing a significant stretch of railway to collapse into the sea.

In the meantime buses are replacing trains on several routes to bridge the gap in the network.

Further north, train frequency on the Midland Main Line between Sheffield and Chesterfield has been reduced for up to six weeks because one track has been taken out of service while work is undertaken to stabilise a hill next to the railway which was destabilised by heavy rain.