Work has started work on the second section of the new Sea Wall in Dawlish to provide the railway with more protection from extreme weather.
The next phase of the £80m upgrades started this week and will take around two years to complete.
This section, from Dawlish Section to the Coastguard breakwater to the east of the station will be completed in late 2021, whilst the section between Dawlish Station and the Colonade Breakwater will start to be built shortly after.
A major part of this work involves the use of an eight-legged walking jack-up barge known as a Wavewalker.
This piece of machinery will be used by BAM Nuttall to safely access the sea face of the embankment to help with the piling of the sea wall.
Once completed, the section of the sea wall will be higher than the existing wall and have a curved edge to send the waves back towards the sea.
This next stage of the project will also see more money spent locally, with as much as £10 million expected to be spent with local businesses, this comes after £5m was spent on local labour in the first section which was completed earlier in 2020
Ewen Morrison, Network Rail senior programme manager for the Dawlish sea wall project, said: “We are thrilled to have started work on delivering the next section of this vital upgrade that will protect the rail artery to the south-west for the next 100 years.
“Our plans have been drawn up by world-leading engineers and it will provide greater protection to the railway and town from rising sea levels and extreme weather.
“We will continue to update the community with how our work is progressing.”
Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “I’m really pleased to see that work is starting on the next phase of the sea wall and that the innovative ‘Wavewalker’ is being used to construct it – a first for UK rail.
“Our investment will provide a resilient railway for generations to come, and forms part of our commitment to deliver reliable, punctual journeys across Devon and Cornwall, helping the south-west build back better, supporting the local economy and tourism.”
Anne Marie Morris, MP for Newton Abbot, commented: “I very much welcome the beginning of this part of the resilience work at Dawlish which will safeguard the line for decades to come, bringing with it an economic boost for the local economy and that of the wider South West. I very much encourage constituents to make use of the Network Rail information point for any updates or queries they might have.”
Huw Jones, Divisional Director Rail, BAM Nuttall said: “The railway in Dawlish is uniquely positioned, leaving it enormously exposed to the worst weather that the English Channel can produce. Working in this environment requires imaginative solutions and innovative thinking and our use of the WaveWalker is a great example of that.”
“The jack-up barge allows us to work safely on the foundations of a new sea-wall on a 24-7 basis, regardless of tides. Using the WaveWalker to deliver this phase of work means we can complete the work more cost-effectively, allowing us to minimise the impact on passengers whilst significantly reducing the time that this work impacts the local community.”
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