As work progresses on the first section of the new sea wall at Dawlish, Network Rail has shared plans for the remaining section of the £80m project which will protect the railway, passengers and pedestrians whilst improving the long-term resilience of the line which links Devon and Cornwall to the rest of the UK.
The plans for the latest section of the new sea wall, which runs for 415m between Coastguards and Colonnade breakwaters, includes a new taller sea wall incorporating a high-level wider and safer public promenade, pedestrian access to the beach and footbridge to link the two parts of the sea wall and an accessible station footbridge with lifts.
The reconstruction of the timber seaward platform at Dawlish station will also improve accessibility, making it easier for passengers to get on and off trains at the Grade II listed station, which is used by more than half a million people each year.
The new structure will provide greater protection from rising sea levels and extreme weather for generations to come. The wider, safer promenade will retain the views of the renowned coast – and allow walkers, families and people with disabilities to safely enjoy the coastal path between the railway and the sea.
There will be raised areas with seating on the promenade, which will be enhanced by the removal of pigeon roosts – leading to a cleaner walkway and improved water quality.
As part of Network Rail’s commitment to spending money locally, the scheme will also deliver a further boost to the south Devon economy after £5m was spent on local labour, materials and accommodation during the first section of the new sea wall.
Network Rail’s plans have been developed with world leading engineering experts, Arup. Scale models of potential options have then been subjected to laboratory testing with wave conditions simulated in a state-of-the-art facility at HR Wallingford, a globally recognised leader in testing solutions wherever water interacts with people, infrastructure and the environment. This rigorous testing was undertaken to ensure the best solution is being proposed, that will help protect the railway and town from extreme weather and rising sea levels.
The plans for the second section of the new sea wall will be submitted to Teignbridge District Council, the local planning authority, next month. They will formally consult the local community on the proposed designs. Listed Building Consent is also being sought from the council, as the work is physically attached to the Grade II listed station.
To help explain the plans Network Rail has sent letters and a factsheet to more than 1,900 Dawlish residents. A public teleconference will also take place to answer questions from the public and further explain the plans. This will replace a community drop-in event, which is not possible due to the coronavirus crisis.
Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western route director, 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, in a way that works for Dawlish. Completing the Government’s £80m investment will protect the railway and improve facilities for the residents of Dawlish and visitors to the town for generations to come.
“We’ve already made great progress on the first section the Dawlish sea wall at Marine Parade and would like to thank the local community and passengers for their patience as the work continues.
“With almost £5m already being spent locally during our works at Marine Parade, we are committed to continuing to spend as much as we can with local suppliers, accommodation providers and other community businesses as we deliver the remainder of this vital project.”
Further information on the proposals for section two of the wall can be found at networkrail.co.uk/dawlishseawall2