Government pledges £10m to Dawlish sea wall upgrade

ONE of the UK’s most iconic stretches of railway is to benefit from an additional £10million Government investment in an effort to help strengthen its resilience and ensure its future as a key transport artery.

The regular hammerings inflicted by the waves on the Dawlish sea wall are exemplified as GWR Class 153 No. 153329 leads ‘Pacer’ No. 143603 into a wall of water at Dawlish while working the 09.10 Exmouth-Paignton service on April 4. DAVID HUNT

The funding for the line from Exeter to Newton Abbot via the Dawlish sea wall was announced on November 17, and comes as a direct result of fears of a repeat of the events of 2014 when a section of the sea wall at Dawlish was washed away.

The closure of the line was estimated to cost the South West economy more than £1billion, leading to calls to reopen the old LSWR main line to Plymouth via Okehampton and Tavistock as a diversionary route.

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Network Rail will use the extra money to further plan for ways to keep the route better protected from extreme weather once the current funding comes to an end in 2017. In a report published into the issue, the infrastructure company identified three core areas where action is required to keep the line open in cases of extreme weather. These are:

■ The risk of landslip from the cliffs between Teignmouth and Parson’s Tunnel (a significant slip occurring at Teignmouth during the closure of the line for the Dawlish repairs)

■ Rock falls from the cliffs above the north entrance to Parson’s Tunnel

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■ Flooding from the sea at Marine Parade between Dawlish station and Kennaway Tunnel.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “It is vital that we do all we can to prepare our transport system for extreme weather. Never has the impact of nature been better demonstrated than at Dawlish, and it is important that we make our railways strong enough to weather any storm.

“The further funding we have today announced will help to make sure that this vital link remains open.”

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