THE Conwy Valley railway line is likely to be closed for a number of weeks as a result of damage caused by Storm Ciara.

The current damage follows despite a major upgrade of the line last year which saw it closed for a number of months also to repair storm damage.

A spokesman for Network Rail, which is responsible for maintaining the line said: “Storm Ciara, which bought 90mph winds, extreme rainfall, and flooding across Wales, has caused extensive damage on the Conwy Valley Line, north of Llanrwst.

“Engineers inspecting the line today have identified several sites where the ballast supporting the track has been washed away by floodwater. The storm has also damaged fencing and level crossings at several locations.

“Water is still present on the line and for safety reasons we haven’t been able to explore the whole of the line.

"We need to wait for the water to recede before we can assess this and the final impact of the storm will then be known. but early indications suggest that the damage is not as extensive as that caused by Storm Gareth in March last year, when the line was closed for four months.

"We are also aware that we are due Storm Dennis this weekend which may also impact the Conwy Valley Line, so a final timeframe for repairs to the line will be clearer early next week, but we do envisage this work taking a number of weeks.

“While the line remains closed, Transport for Wales will operate a replacement bus service to keep passengers moving and passengers are urged to check before they travel.

“Storm Ciara caused significant disruption to transport networks across the country and unfortunately the damage caused to this part of the line was significant.

“Storm Ciara’s impact in and around the Llanrwst area was significant and had wide-reaching implications for the town and affected communities. While we continuously plan for, and react to, extreme weather, we cannot completely remove the threat of damage to the network.

"We simply can’t commit to a timescale for the completion of this work until the floodwater has receded and we’ve completed our assessments, but we will work tirelessly reopen this line as soon as possible.”

“This is not a question of last year’s work simply not holding up. In addition, I would also stress that work we carry out on the network to help protect against flooding and other extreme weather cannot take away risk entirety.”