The storm damaged section of the railway line at Dawlish in Devon is to be given some further protection with plans to raise the adjacent footpath.
Network Rail has said it is the “perfect time” to raise the footpath and give the sea wall extra protection along a 340m stretch of coast in front of the railway line at Dawlish.
The raising of the footpath is the start of a second part in a three stage process that started with the repair and restoration of the railway line following February’s storm damage. Network Rail has said that the work will add resilience to at risk areas, but is continuing to consider alternative rail routes.
The footpath that is being raised runs between Coastguards footbridge and Rockstone (otherwise known as Blackbridge) footbridge and was left at a lower level when the railway was originally built in the 19th century due to pressure from a local landowner. Raising it will add an extra 3 to 4m of concrete wall to protect the rail line and enable pedestrians to use the path at low tide.
It took eight weeks of repairs to restore the damaged rail track and footpath following the storm damage of early 2014, including building a temporary sea wall from 18 welded shipping containers to protect homes and engineers as they worked to repair a 100m breach at Riviera Terrace, Dawlish.
“The lower level section of the sea wall was the only serious breach at Dawlish,” says Network Rail’s Julian Burnell. “Many residents suggested this solution when we were dealing with the original damage in February and March. Now is the perfect time to raise the footpath and give the sea wall extra protection.
“This significant but straightforward engineering solution means if anything is going to fail then it’ll be the footpath, which has a lesser effect than the stopping of services over the entire railway.”
The project needs to be finished by winter so teams will work through the tourist season to raise the footpath, and bring in material by sea wherever possible in order to minimise disruption.