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Task force formed to speed up Dover sea wall works as beach protection work continues

19 January 2016

Network Rail is part of a new task force led by Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke, which has been created to help rebuild part of the railway from Dover to Folkestone following storm damage, and reduce the impact on passengers.

 

The line has been closed since Christmas Eve 2015 after storms lowered the level of Shakespeare Beach in Dover by almost two metres in the lead up to the festive season.  The foot of the sea wall was exposed to the full force of the sea, leading to sink holes appearing in the railway above and damage to the sea wall.

The working group includes Network Rail; Southeastern; MPs Charlie Elphicke, Damian Collins, and Craig McKinley; Dover District Council and Kent County Council. It will be sharing information and making sure there are no hold-ups in the way of the eventual reconstruction or repair of the railway.

Network Rail and its partner Costain have been protecting the railway and the sea wall since the storms first exposed it, with more than 9,000 tonnes of rock armour already placed on the beach and another 9,000 tonnes expected to arrive in the next week. In addition, design teams have been working on a long-term solution to the damage.

This task force is a positive step forward for our project and will make a big difference to what will be a major civil engineering challenge for us, involving the beach, the railway and the chalk cliffs.

We realise that passengers in Dover, Deal, Folkestone and Sandwich are keen to know when we will be able to reopen the line, and I can reassure them we are working very hard to get them an answer.

This is a vulnerable stretch of railway and we have to find the right design to last many more years into the future and cope with climate change. As soon as we have a design and a timescale we are confident in, we will let everyone know.

Alasdair Coates, Network Rail’s route managing director

 
I am doing everything I can to help Network Rail get our railway open as soon as possible. Our high-speed rail link is crucial to the developments we have planned in Dover and I also know that passengers in Deal are enduring much longer journeys to work as a result of this damage. We have to smooth the way to get this repaired but also make sure we build a railway that will last for many more years.

Charlie Elphicke MP

graphic showing Dover tide

Above: This diagram shows how the action of the prevailing winds and tide (blue) and the sea (red)
impacts on the sea wall (yellow), with the beach constantly being moved by the sea