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Long-awaited plans to build a sea wall to protect Dawlish rail line unveiled by Network Rail

Plans to build a new sea wall in the first phase of work to protect the costal railway which connects Devon and Cornwall with the rest of the UK have been unveiled by Network Rail.

High waves and strong winds have wreaked havoc on the Dawlish line in Devon, regularly damaging the tracks and stations and shutting down the line several times in recent months.

Five years since storms collapsed the sea wall protecting the line and washed parts of the track away in 2014, Network Rail has announced it has submitted a planning submission to Teignbridge District Council for a new, higher seal wall to be erected.

Network Rail say the plans will provide greater resilience on the line for the long-term, preventing stormy conditions from damaging the railway.

A number of detailed studies have taken place since 2014, establishing that maintaining the current railway route was the most feasible and cost-effective solution and identifying the sea wall as one of areas requiring the most urgent attention.

The government then invested £15m to develop a long-resilience plan with coastal, tunnel, cliff, and railway engineers undertaking detailed marine and geological studies.

Plans were originally shared in October with proposals for three priority areas including the new sea wall at Dawlish as part of the South West Rail Resilience Programme.

Network Rail has now submitted the plans for ‘prior approval’ with the approval of the transport secretary Chris Grayling. Teignbridge council will now consult the local community on the proposals.

The sea wall will provide protection from waves and is future-proof, taking into account rising sea levels as well as retaining the views of the coast.

Mark Langman, Network Rail’s western route managing director, said: “The DfT and Network Rail have been working tirelessly to determine what needs to be done in order to protect this vital transport artery for Devon and Cornwall.

“From blank page studies that looked at all options we’ve identified this as the most feasible rail route for Devon and Cornwall and there are areas that specifically need our attention.

“Improving the resilience of the sea wall at Dawlish is one of the most immediate and easiest areas we can begin work on and we’ve now submitted detailed plans to Teignbridge District Council.

He said the plans are now subject to the views of the council, residents and then a final decision from government.

“In parallel we continue to work on possible solutions at Holcombe and Parsons Tunnel and will be sharing these with the community later this year.

“Maintaining this vital rail link for Devon and Cornwall remains a high priority for us, as I know it is for government.”

Image credit - Moorefam


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