Railway safety and crime

15.02.19

Battered Dawlish rail line gets £80m for new protective sea wall

A new taller sea wall is to be built at Dawlish as the DfT announced that up to £80m is being made available to build it – five years on from the storms which wreaked havoc on the rail line.

Around £40m was spent by Network Rail repairing the track after storms in February 2014 severed the Great Western Railway line between Exeter and Plymouth, where the Dawlish part of the line clings to the coast, making it vulnerable to high waves.

But now the DfT has announced further funding of £80m “to deliver a new sea wall at Dawlish, providing better protection for the railway and homes behind it.”

The Devon sea wall will be two-and-a-half metres higher than the existing five-metre tall structure to increase the protection to the railway from waves during poor weather.

The line has proven susceptible to flooding in recent years, damaging the track and forcing services to close on several occasions.

Chris Grayling said: “We cannot allow the disruption and damage endured by Dawlish and the south-west to happen again.

“This significant investment demonstrates our cast-iron commitment to delivering a resilient and safe railway, giving passengers, businesses, and residents confidence in a reliable service.

“With up to £80m of funding available to create a rigorous set of defences, this new sea wall will help protect this vital route, building on our ambitious plans to grow this region’s economy and prosperity through stronger transport connections.”

Work on the new sea wall will begin in the spring and is expected to be completed by 2021.

Plymouth Labour MP Luke Pollard welcomed the news, but questioned why it had taken so long for funding to arrive, and said he would keep campaigning for the full amount of funding need to ensure long-term resilience.

“It's taken five years to get ministers to announce the cash for only two thirds of the upgrades we need at Dawlish. The final phase to steady the cliffs remains unfunded.”

Network Rail announced earlier this month that it was applying for planning submission from Teignbridge District Council, which has to make a decision by the end of March.

The project is part of a new £2bn investment in the south west to support growth and prosperity, improving the strategic road network, high-speed direct bus connectivity, safe and continuous cycle routes, and £22m for a new Plymouth link road.

Image credit - Moorefam

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