Network Rail regulation and performance

13.06.19

Dawlish railway may be ‘moved out to sea’ to protect it from storms under new proposals

The storm-battered Dawlish rail line could be “moved out to sea” and away from the “hazard” of the cliffs under new plans put forward by Network Rail.

New proposals have been put forward to better protect the south Devon rail line from cliff falls, land slips and damage caused by the sea during extreme weather, as seen in 2014 when parts of the track were washed away.

Five years on, a new £80m sea wall to protect the costal rail line is being built to replace the one destroyed in the storms, aiming to provide protection for the next 100 years.

But new proposals have been put forward as Network Rail look for new ways to protect the 1.8km stretch of railway which is bordered by steep high-risk cliffs on one side and the sea on the other.

One of the possible solutions includes “moving the railway away from sections of cliff pose the greatest hazard” and even closer to the sea.

PTT image 2

The relocated railway would also require a rock reinforcement or enhanced sea wall to absorb the energy of the waves, and some land reclamation would be needed in order to build a buttress to stabilise the cliffs.

The proposals also include enhanced leisure access, cycling and walking routes and new amnetiy areas alongside Holcombe beach, and a five-week public consultation has been launched to gather local views.

Mark Langman, route managing director for Network Rail’s Western route, said: “These proposals will protect the railway for generations to come, but we listened to public feedback to the original concepts in 2016 and have worked hard to minimise the impact on Holcombe beach and incorporate new and improved amenities such as cycling and foot paths.

“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 so we really want to hear views on our updated proposals to allow us to refine them further before we apply for consent to undertake the work.”

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