HEAVY flooding and incessant rain forced the closure of a bridge and busy main road in a North-East town and caused the cancellation of train services when water damaged tracks.

Torrential downpours today (Tuesday) swelled the River Skerne, in Darlington, to dangerous levels, and police shut John Street, near High Northgate, when water threatened to rise over the bridge.

Engineers from Darlington Borough Council and the Environment Agency said the bridge was closed as a precaution, and no water had damaged nearby commercial premises.

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The weather also hit train services and many were cancelled and delayed when lines were flooded between Darlington and York.

Tonight, a number of services are running on schedule, though First Transpennine trains from Darlington to Newcastle had been suspended due to damaged overhead lines, with replacement buses carrying passengers.

Emergency crews worked throughout the day across Darlington to pump gallons of water from Haughton Road up to McMullen Road, with the area resembling a lake as flood water came close to running into Bristol Street Motors car dealership.

The council could not confirm when the routes would be re-opened to motorists.

Crews were also called to clear a blocked drain in a beck behind Duxford Grove, in the Faverdale area of the town, with water just feet away from residents’ properties.

The Northern Echo joined council staff as they tackled areas across the town, and Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Borough Council, who also accompanied workers, said their actions had averted further serious damage.

He said the authority had a major incident plan in place alongside numerous agencies including police and fire and ambulance crews, which had minimised flood damage.

He said: “The workers have done an unbelievable job because this has been bad, but it could have been a lot worse.

“We had workers out all night and throughout the day to monitor areas and we had the people and the equipment in the right place at the right time.

“But that doesn’t mean we won’t assess what’s happened as we need our response to be as good or even better next time.

“I’d also like to thank people of Darlington for bearing with us because there has been a tremendous amount of rainfall.”