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Dawlish is ‘shining example’ of civil engineering at its best

The extraordinary work of civil engineers in restoring the ­Dawlish railway line - two weeks ahead of schedule and in the face of extremely challenging conditions - is being used as part of a special campaign aimed to raise awareness of the importance of civil engineering to society, and inspire young people to find out more about a career in civil engineering.

Hard won work

The Network Rail team faced challenging conditions

The ICE’s “This is Civil ­Engineering” campaign was launched in March 2012 as a simple way to increase awareness of civil engineering to the public, and sees banners and signboards displayed at sites during a ­project’s construction phase.

The banners also feature a quick response code which links to a dedicated web page giving more information about the campaign and civil engineering as a career.

ICE South West is taking the campaign to the Dawlish line this month to acknowledge the work of the army of engineers from Network Rail and contractors that were involved in the re-build.

Commenting on the heroic effort that went into repairing the ­Dawlish line, ICE South West regional director Trish Johnson said: “Over 300 engineers - including ICE members - have been working day and night to repair the track at Dawlish and get it up and running before Easter - two weeks ahead of schedule. Considering the extent of the damage and the conditions they have been faced with, what has been achieved in two months is quite extraordinary and I congratulate all involved.

“The team rebuilt and fortified the breach; installed over 20km of new cables and a new temporary signalling system; replaced over 700m of track and ballast; rebuilt half of Dawlish station with a new platform and canopy; and removed 25,000t of collapsed cliff in Teignmouth,” she added.

‘They even had to build a ­temporary sea wall from 18 welded shipping containers to protect homes and engineers as they worked.”

She added that this was a ­”shining example of civil engineers doing what they do best” and the perfect project to demonstrate the vital role civil engineers play in ­society.

Network Rail site engineer Tom Kirkham commented: “The only reason we have been able to open the railway ahead of schedule is due to the monumental efforts of all the people who have worked night and day to meet the deadline.

“It has been a genuine team effort, from the guys installing the container breakwater during howling storms, [and] the roped access teams scaling the cliffs to the track workers pushing all the way to cross the finishing line.”

However, Johnson added that there were still longer term issues to address in the region.

“The priority is, of course, to get the line back into service - but there are still longer term issues and the South West and its economy remain vulnerable,” he said.

“We welcome the review looking into a long-term solution to the resilience of the railway network and look forward to more news on this in the autumn.”

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