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Network Rail launches consultation to protect Devon railway

Sstretch of railway between parsons tunnel 3to2

Network Rail has launched a consultation open on “significant” changes to protect a stretch of railway in Devon from cliff falls and extreme weather.

The 1.8km of line between Parsons Tunnel, near Holcombe, and Teignmouth needs to be protected as it is currently prone to landslips from a steep cliff face immediately to the north of the tracks and the sea to the south.

The line was closed for six weeks in 2014 following a landslide.

The five-week consultation will include details of the realignment of the railway to make room for corrective measures to stabilise the cliffs.

The plans being put forward by Network Rail include improved leisure facilities and amenities including new, fully accessible, coastal walking and cycling routes.

The design of the new alignment will require some land reclamation to allow a buttress – a sloping rock structure to stabilise the cliffs and protect the railway – to be built. To protect the realigned railway from the sea, a rock revetment or enhanced sea wall will also be required to absorb the energy of the waves and allow for the railway to be relocated away from the cliffs.

Network Rail route managing director for Western route Mark Langman said: “The railway is a vital artery to the South West, which communities, businesses and visitors to the region depend on for connecting with the ­rest of the UK.

“Since we published early concepts in 2016 we have been working hard to refine our proposals as a direct result of the public feedback we received. The latest plans minimise the impact on the beach, allow for new and improved amenities such as cycling and foot paths and will protect the railway for generations to come. We would like to hear views on our updated proposals to allow us to refine them further before we apply for consent to undertake the work.”

The consultation will run for five weeks from 10 June until 15 July. Following this, the updated plans will be publicised through a second round of consultation in the autumn.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Michael Thorn

    It is five long years since the Dawlish railway was closed by coastal erosion and cliff falls, and the government, in the shape of David Cameron, proclaimed that this would never happen again. There are promises and consultations and proposals, but nothing happens. The truth is that this slow but scenic coastal railway is never going to be the fast and reliable railway artery that the South West needs. When billions of pounds are being justified for a third route between London and Birmingham, surely the case for a faster and secure inland route between Exeter and Newton Abbot, serving the strategically important naval base in Plymouth is incontrovertible.

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