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Emergency repairs arrest Dawlish railway storm damage

A POTENTIAL failure of a sea wall and rail overbridge has been averted after contractors carried out emergency storm damage repairs in south west England.

Severe storms battered the London to Penzance railway at Dawlish in Devon at the end of October, damaging coastal defences and closing the line. The 130km/h winds combined with high tides sent spray over 15m into the air.

Main contractor Dean and Dyball and subcontractor Can Geotechnical were diverted from nearby cliff stabilisation work to protect the problematic line that has a long history of instability (GE August 04).

The damage at several locations resulted in the washout of granite facing blocks and erosion of backfill. As the washout extended beneath the rails, the line was closed so Network Rail engineers could assess damage.

Working in shifts between tides, teams carried out emergency repairs, backfilling beneath both sets of rails to halt further damage and then rebuilt the affected areas.This included dry mix concrete walls built using bulk bags and sandbags to act as permanent shuttering. Using rope access, site workers also applied a protective sprayed concrete facing to the defences to provide immediate protection against wave action.

The speed of emergency work meant the line was reopened just three days after closure.

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