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Network Rail submits plans for Dawlish sea wall

Network Rail has submitted plans for an improved sea wall at Dawlish as part of the South West Rail Resilience Programme.

The plans, developed in partnership with Arup, for a new, higher sea wall at Dawlish will be submitted to the council, targeted at providing greater resilience for the rail line.

The design will prevent stormy conditions from damaging the railway at Dawlish in Devon. Owing to high waves and strong winds, the tracks and station are regularly being damaged by flooding, as seen in 2014 when the line washed away.

Since then Network Rail has undertaken a series of detailed studies which established that maintaining the current railway route was the most feasible and cost-effective solution. They subsequently identified the areas that needed most urgent attention – including the Dawlish sea wall.

The new sea wall will provide far more protection from waves and extreme weather and is future-proofed to protect the railway and the town, taking into account predicted rising sea levels. The local community will also benefit from a wider, safer promenade which retains the views of the coast.

Network Rail is now submitting the plans for ‘prior approval’ under Network Rail’s permitted development rights. Under this Teignbridge District Council will now be able to formally consult the local community on the proposed designs.

The government invested £15M to appoint coastal, tunnel, cliff and railway engineers to undertake detailed marine and geological studies to develop long term resilience plans further.

These plans were shared with the local community in October when Network Rail outlined proposals for the three priority areas including a new, higher sea wall at Dawlish.

Network Rail’s Western route managing director Mark Langman said: “The Department for Transport and Network Rail have been working tirelessly to determine what needs to be done in order to protect this vital transport artery for Devon and Cornwall.

“From blank page studies that looked at all options we’ve identified this as the most feasible rail route for Devon and Cornwall and there are areas that specifically need our attention.

“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.

“These plans are now subject to the views of the council, their residents and a final decision from government.

“In parallel we continue to work on possible solutions at Holcombe and Parsons Tunnel and will be sharing these with the community later this year.

“Maintaining this vital rail link for Devon and Cornwall remains a high priority for us, as I know it is for government.”

Network Rail also started work with Bam Nuttall in November to repair the breakwaters.

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