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Dawlish line to reopen ahead of schedule

The storm-hit Dawlish line could be reopened on 4 April – reconnecting West Devon and Cornwall to the national rail network – almost two weeks ahead of schedule, according to Network Rail.

More than 300 engineers have been working round-the-clock to provide greater sea defences to the line. In particular, the main breach has been repaired with nearly 5,000 tonnes of concrete and 150 tonnes of steel, and a new 200m section of track is ready-built for installation.

The engineers will now focus on installing 120m of large concrete wall sections, repairing 525m of parapet walls and renewing 13 miles of cables between Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth.

Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail’s Western route managing director, said: “We are determined to complete this work in time for the school holidays to support the vital tourism trade in Dawlish, south Devon and across the south west of England.

“An unfortunate event like the one experienced at Dawlish shows how important the railway is to the region’s people and its economy and I hope our efforts to restore here show how seriously we treat that responsibility.”

The storms on the 5 and 14 February caused extensive damage cross the 3.7-mile coastal route between Dawlish and Teignmouth.

Speaking about the reopening of the Dawlish line, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlinsaid:“I know that Network Rail staff have been working tirelessly to get the line up and running as soon as possible. I would like to thank everyone for their hard work so far.

“The confirmation that the line should now be back in operation before the Easter holidays will be a real boost for local communities and businesses.”

Studies are now underway to identify an engineering option to boost the resilience of the sea defences and to examine the opportunities for an additional inland route. Led by Network Rail, these efforts will form part of a long-term strategy to safeguard the rail services to Devon and Cornwall.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Ricp   07/03/2014 at 05:59

Network Rail appears to have worked very hard to get this devastated sea-wall line rebuilt so speedily. Congratulations not criticism for once! Having consolidated this route it is time to work with the Environment Agency to look at ways to break these waves with either breakwater lines, or dumping some large boulders on the seaward side of the wall. Reinforcing the rest of that sea wall is also urgent. and NR needs to put in crossovers for operational flexibility with single line working. Then the alternative route needs to be decided on quickly. The best solution is to restore the former L&SW railway line serving Okehampton and Tavistock, as this option offers social and economic benefits to areas cut off from rail 40 plus years ago. This line can be laid out for higher speeds, but reversing trains at Exeter and Plymouth is not a problem as most trains have cabs at each end, whether an HST, the new IEP, or 142, 150 and 153 DMUs. The sooner this decision is made the better for the West of England, to maintain the local economy.

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