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Five years ago, a significant stretch of coastal railway collapsed into the sea after a storm destroyed 100 metres of sea wall.
The severe weather of February 2014 cut off the South West peninsular from the rest of the railway; the mainline that runs through Dawlish in Devon is the only line connecting most of the county and all of Cornwall to the rest of the network.
Fast-pace repairs by 300 Network Rail engineers meant the line at Dawlish reopened just eight weeks later. How did we do it? Innovation, a controlled landslip and more than 6,000 tonnes of concrete.
Today, engineers are working on our South West Rail Resilience Programme to improve the resilience of the railway between Dawlish and Teignmouth in Devon.
World-leading experts in coastal, tunnel, cliff and railway engineering have carried out detailed studies on resilience in the area.
The research has helped us determine what is happening to the cliffs and coastline, so we can implement long-term solutions to protect the line and town from coastal erosion.
Dawlish - damage before the storms on 14 February 2014
On 4 February this year, we said we had made a planning submission to Teignbridge District Council for a new, higher sea wall at Dawlish that would provide greater resilience for generations to come.
The 2014 damage caused significant disruption to residents, visitors and businesses that use and rely on the line. Our aim is to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Repairs by Network Rail continue a year following the storms...
What happened - storms hit Dawlish
Over 4 and 5 February 2014, very strong winds and high seas severely damaged the railway line that runs through Dawlish. The wall between the sea and the railway line breached; a section of the wall washed away, as did 80 metres of track, platforms at Dawlish railway station and sections of the coastal path.
Another storm on 14 February dislodged the temporary barriers, destroyed further sections of the sea wall and caused a lesser secondary breach further down the coast, nearer Dawlish Warren.
Network Rail’s team of engineers battled for more than two months to overcome every obstacle thrown at it by Mother Nature as they worked to repair a 100-metre breach at Riviera Terrace in Dawlish.
Damage at Dawlish, 2014
Strong winds and rain at Dawlish in 2018:
The 2014 response involved:
Did you know?
We set up temporary barges on the beach beside the railway to act as a base from which our team could work. This meant the railway could continue to operate as normal during the extensive repairs.
With the most critical phase of the restoration complete and the line reopened in just two months, engineers moved to the less critical phase:
The new raised sea wall officially opened on 14 August 2015. It stretches continuously for four miles. The old seafront walkway was regularly cut off at high tide but the new one is protected from the sea and gives superb views along the coast.
We hope to build an even stronger wall for the next century
The design we have submitted plans for will prevent stormy conditions from damaging the railway. High waves and strong winds regularly damage the tracks and the station.
Since the storms of 2014, we have established that maintaining the current railway route is the most feasible and cost-effective solution. As a result, we propose to build a new, higher and wider seawall in front of the existing wall. This will increase resilience from waves and extreme weather and take predicted rising sea levels into account.
The local community will also benefit from a wider, safer promenade which retains the views of the coast - a feature the area is famous for.
Mark Langman, managing director of the Western route at Network Rail, said: “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.”
The proposed new wall at Dawlish
Julie Gregory, senior commercial scheme sponsor at Network Rail, said the new wall would help us avoid disruption to train services following extreme weather.
She said: “The bit that’s most vulnerable is the bit we’re addressing first, near the West. That’s called Marine Parade and it’s about a 320m section we’re fitting with pre-cast concrete panels. It will make [the wall] about 2.5m higher… We want to do the job once, shore up the railway… and it’s all right for the next 100 years.”
Greater resilience for future generations...
The post Dawlish: five years since the storm that collapsed the railway appeared first on Network Rail.
This article first appeared on www.networkrail.co.uk
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