Network Rail has submitted a planning application to Teignbridge District Council to improve the long-term resilience of the railway linking Devon and Cornwall to the rest of the UK.
Plans for a new, higher sea wall at Dawlish in Devon have been developed in partnership with engineering services firm Arup.
The design will prevent stormy conditions from damaging the railway at Dawlish, where the tracks and station are regularly damaged by flooding due to high waves and strong winds.
The railway line was washed away in flooding in 2014, after which Network Rail has taken up studies, which determined that maintaining the current railway route was the most feasible and cost-effective solution.
Subsequently, the studies identified the areas that needed most urgent attention, including the Dawlish sea wall.
Based on the studies, the government invested £15m in carrying out detailed marine and geological studies to develop long-term resilience plans.
The plans have been 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.
The new sea wall is expected to provide more protection from waves and extreme weather and will be future-proofed to protect the railway and the town, taking into account predicted rising sea levels.
The local community is also expected to benefit from a wider, safer promenade, which retains the views of the coast.
Network Rail is now submitting the plans for ‘prior approval’ under its permitted development rights and the Teignbridge District Council will now be able to formally consult the local community on the proposed designs.
Network Rail 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.
“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.”
Image: Rendering of sea wall at Dawlish. Photo: Courtesy of Network Rail.