The UK government has announced an additional funding of up to £80m in the south-west to deliver a new sea wall at Dawlish to provide better protection for the railway and homes behind it.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said that the height of the sea wall will be increased by 2.5m and will include wave returns to reduce the impact of waves and the likelihood of the line being closed during adverse weather.
This is expected to help ensure the serious damage and disruption seen during storms in 2014 is not repeated.
The improvements at Dawlish are part of an investment programme of more than £2bn in the south-west to transform connectivity throughout the region, outlined in the Investing in the South West report.
The programme includes schemes to improve the road network, high-speed direct bus connectivity, safe and continuous cycle routes and easier transfer between transport modes.
Grayling said: “We cannot allow the disruption and damage endured by Dawlish and the south-west to happen again.
“This significant investment demonstrates our cast-iron commitment to delivering a resilient and safe railway, giving passengers, businesses and residents confidence in a reliable service.
“With up to £80 million of funding available to create a rigorous set of defences, this new sea wall will help protect this vital route, building on our ambitious plans to grow this region’s economy and prosperity through stronger transport connections.”
The Transport Secretary made the announcement during a visit to Dawlish, where he discussed with Network Rail officials and local businesses how government investment is focused on giving people across the south-west the modern, reliable services they deserve.
Work on the new sea wall will commence in spring 2019 and is expected to be completed by 2021.
The government has already provided £15m to Network Rail to design a long-lasting solution to this problem, in addition to the £40m spent by Network Rail to repair the damage caused in the 2014 storm.
Based on detailed geological surveys, Network Rail is developing solutions for the cliffs along the coast north-east of Teignmouth using the £15m previously announced, which includes the development of an application for planning consent for work to maintain the cliffs and protect the railway.
Earlier in February 2019, Network Rail 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 the new, higher sea wall at Dawlish in Devon have been developed in partnership with engineering services firm Arup.
Image: Rendering of sea wall at Dawlish. Photo: Courtesy of Network Rail.