Vital repair work is set to be carried out to four breakwaters to safeguard rail lines in Dawlish, Teignmouth and Holcombe, Devon.
A repair programme for four breakwaters, to improve protection for the Dawlish sea wall and the railway along the coast, will start next month and run for a further six months. The breakwaters to be repaired are at Boat Cove, Coastguards Point, Colonnade Underpass and Langstone Rock.
This work will act as a temporary defence measure, while Network Rail spends £15M working up detailed plans for longer-term options.
Network Rail has established a dedicated South West Rail Resilience Programme to identify and implement the best options to improve the resilience of the infrastructure along this embattled stretch of track.
In 2014, storms caused part of the sea wall in Dawlish, Devon to collapse. The resulting damage left the rail lines suspended in mid-air. The damage is estimated to have cost the local economy up to £1.2bn.
Dawlish rail washout : Dawlish section of track is exposed to rough seas in 2014
Network Rail director of route asset management Mike Gallop said: “This section of the railway is vital for many residents and communities in Devon and Cornwall and we are committed to safeguarding it for future generations,” he said.
“However, it’s going to take us time to work out the best ways to protect the railway and then deliver these works, so we wanted to find ways now to make the railway more resilient than it currently is. By repairing the breakwaters we can give some immediate protection to the sea wall, the railway and town behind it, and we are looking at how we can put in place immediate, short term measures to reduce the risk of a landslip on the cliff at Holcombe.”
In 2016, £10M of extra funding was made available to strengthen the resilience of the railway line from Exeter to Newton Abbot via Dawlish.
In August, outgoing Network Rail chief executive Mark Carnes told New Civil Engineer that the emergency recostruction of the railway at Dawlish in 2014, was personally satisfying as it “symbolised the ‘can do’ spirit of railway people” and was among his career highlights.
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