New Dawlish sea wall takes shape – despite Storm Ciara hampering progress

Dawlish sea wall
Credit: network Rail

Network Rail has announced that plans to protect the vital rail link to the south-west from rising sea levels and extreme weather have taken a major step forward to completion, despite the challenging storm conditions.

The work involves installing a bigger sea wall in Dawlish, Devon, which will protect the coastal railway line, as well as the iconic footpath that runs beside it, from the sea.

The work reached a significant milestone as, on the 9th of February 2020, the first new panels, which form the main structure of the wall, were erected despite Storm Ciara battering the coast.

The new Dawlish sea wall is part of a series of measures along the coast, that aims to protect the only railway line that connects 50 towns and cities in Devon and Cornwall with the rest of the country.

Credit: Charlie Greasley

In total, over 100 panels will be installed at Dawlish over the coming weeks, allowing residents, visitors and rail passengers to start to see how the structure will look.

Once this phase of construction has been completed, Network Rail’s focus will turn to improve the promenade that gives excellent views of the coast.

Once the work to install and back-fill the panels at the sea wall is complete, the next step is to install a track drainage system before the construction staff then turn their focus to the promenade.  New lighting, seating and surfacing work will be added, improving the area

This vital work is scheduled to be completed before the peak summer season, so Cornwall can be safely connected to the rest of the UK.

What did the officials say?

David Lovell, senior programme manager for the South West Rail Resilience Programme said:

“Despite challenging conditions, our team managed to get the first pre-cast wall panels in place last weekend.

“This is an important landmark in the Dawlish sea wall project, taking us one step further to protecting this iconic section of railway and the coastal footpath for generations to come.”

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  1. So is there no need to build a new diversion railway line avoiding the sea near Dawlish. As the new sea wall is to protect the railway line and Dawlish.

  2. It would still be a very good idea to reinstate the inland route from Exeter to Plymouth, and then communication between the West Country and the rest of the country would be ensured in all weather conditions.


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