Rockfall Shelter - Part of Dawlish Railway

Dawlish Railway Rises Above the Waves: £165m Resilience Plan Proves Effective

Ten years after a storm ravaged the Devon coast and damaged the South Devon mainline, the resilience project implemented to improve its defences is still going strong.

The iconic Dawlish railway, perched precariously on the Devon coastline, was left in tatters after the February 2014 storm. But thanks to a £165m investment from the Department for Transport (DfT) and specialist work carried out by Network Rail, has ensured that the line is equipped to deal with the elements it is faced with.

"The South West Rail Resilience Programme is a significant piece of work," said Network Rail's capital delivery director Stuart Calvert. "This stretch of railway has undergone an incredible transformation, protecting this key route for generations."

Dawlish Sea Wall open to public

Several projects were part of the wider programme, including a stronger and taller wall. The wall deflects damage and allows a quicker recovery time after storms.

Teams also installed a new footbridge which made Dawlish station fully accessible for the time. A huge rockfall shelter, stretching over 100 metres was constructed and cliff netting installed along the section.

For Dawlish and the line itself, the works have been a huge success since its construction. Rail minister, Huw Merriman emphasised the project’s impact: “A decade ago, the Dawlish storm battered south Devon, devasting its coastline and severing the southwest from the rest of the country for eight weeks.

“Thanks to more than £165 million of Government funding to restore and protect this vital stretch of railway, its future is now secured. This will provide residents with peace of mind the line is better protected, no matter the weather.”

Dawlish Rail - Original Breach

There are further plans to strengthen the route’s protection, with a further £5 million allocated for cliff drainage on the section between Parson’s Tunnel and Teignmouth.

Andrea Davis, Devon County Council cabinet member for climate change, environment, and transport, said: “The terrible storm ten years ago is still a sharp memory for many.

“Since then, the partnership working between Department for Transport, Network Rail, Devon County Council and Peninsula Transport has never wavered in the joint goal of a resilient railway in the South West.”

Photo: Network Rail

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