Train services to Devon and Cornwall are to be altered due to work on a tunnel in Somerset.

The railway between Tiverton and Taunton will be closed from January 18 until February 9 as Network Rail carry out £15 million works to repair Whiteball Tunnel.

First Great Western say they are working to minimise disruption to journey train services to Devon and Cornwall, which will be diverted via Honiton and journey times extended by up to 60 minutes.

David Crome, First Great Western’s General Manager for the West said: “This £15 million Network Rail work is essential to prevent the aging structure from deteriorating further and to renew rail track. While we have done our best to minimise disruption, journeys, diverted via Honiton or retimed to ensure customers can arrive in good time, will take longer.”

The work is "essential to prevent the aging structure from deteriorating". With the tunnel closed, Network Rail will progress their multi-million pound track renewal scheme on this section of the railway and work will also be done to expand the drainage system and to improve the embankment around the area as part of a wider programme to alleviate flood risks posed by extreme weather.

First Great Western has tried to maintain services that allow customers to make early morning meetings in London and Devon however, during the closure this may mean starting your journey between 30 to 65 minutes earlier than usual.

Retimed morning services for early arrivals in London/Reading.

• Exeter to London Paddington: Departing Exeter at 05:46 retimed to 04:38, arriving in London Paddington 08:09. 

Plymouth to London Paddington: Departing Plymouth at 05:53 retimed to 05:00, arriving in London Paddington at 09:01

• Penzance and Cornish stations to London Paddington: Departing Penzance at 05:05 retimed to 04:00, arriving in London Paddington at 10:02

• London Paddington to Exeter: Departing Paddington at 07:06 retimed to 06:42 arriving In Exeter at 10:10 Trains will be able to run to Taunton from London and Bristol, however usual train times for services will be altered and service frequency reduced.

A rail replacement service will be in operation between Taunton and Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids and Tiverton and Exeter St Davids and Taunton.

Customers using branch lines will need to check connection times to main line services due to some services being retimed during the line closure.