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Engineers commence studies to safeguard Devon and Cornwall railway

Expert engineers have begun detailed studies along the route between Teignmouth and Dawlish in order to safeguard the railway in Devon and Cornwall.

Network Rail has been devising plans to safeguard the railway since 2014, when the railway line between Exeter and Newton Abbot was closed for eight weeks due to severe weather.

In 2016, Network Rail completed the ‘Exeter to Newton Abbot Geo-Environment Resilience’ study, which identified that extreme weather and coastal erosion events that closed the line in 2014 will occur more frequently without a series of short, medium and long term measures.

The three priority areas identified by the report were the railway between Parsons Tunnel and Teignmouth where there was a landslip on the cliffs in 2014; the Dawlish sea wall that collapsed in 2014; and the cliffs between the Kennaway and Parsons tunnels.

An extra £30m of funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) was provided immediately following the storms, allowing Network Rail to begin repair works on the line, and a further £15m was allocated by DfT to fund development and preparation work to improve long term resilience.

Now, Network Rail is beginning the next phase of work with a detailed geological and marine study underway to aid understanding of what is happening to the cliffs and coastline, which will inform measures put in place to maintain the railway.

The next six to eight weeks will see site surveys across Dawlish and Teignmouth, including the sea bed, after which Network Rail will work with the team of experts to develop options for discussion with the local community, council and DfT.

Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, explained that investing the modernisation of the rail network includes making the lines from Dawlish to Teignmouth more resilient to the elements.

He said: “On top of the £31 million put into tackling the damage and disruption caused by the weather in 2014, we have invested a further £15 million to enable world-class engineers to design a long-lasting solution for the line.

“We are determined to improve the service for passengers and safeguard the economy by protecting the movement of goods and services, irrespective of the weather.”

Director of route asset management for Network Rail, Mike Gallop, added: “The section of the railway is vital for many residents and communities in Devon and Cornwall; safeguarding it for future generations remains one of our top priorities.”

Cllr Geoff Brown, Peninsula Rail Task Force chair, said that the government has continually stated that improving the resilience of the line at Dawlish is a number one priority and that these studies represent a starting point to ensure that happens.

“The results of the studies will help create solutions to improve the line and ensure that we do not see a repeat of the damage caused in 2014.

“In the long term this will have huge economic benefits to communities, businesses and visitors in Devon and Cornwall,” he concluded.

Top image: Network Rail


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