South West Rail Resilience Programme

We’re making the line between Dawlish and Teignmouth more resilient

The railway is a vital artery, which connects communities, businesses and visitors in 50 towns and cities in the South West with the rest of the UK. Since the damage caused by heavy storms which resulted in an eight-week closure of the railway in 2014, we have been developing plans to improve the resilience of the railway between Exeter and Newton Abbot.

Working to stabalise the cliff face high above the railway

The South West Rail Resilience Programme was established by Network Rail to identify and implement the best options to improve rail resilience between Dawlish and Teignmouth, helping to avoid a repetition of the events of 2014.

How did we get here?

Following the extreme weather event of 2014, we undertook a complex and expensive repair operation to reinstate the line between Dawlish and Teignmouth, this work cost £35m.

Since 2014 we have been working continuously on the line and putting together plans to safeguard this vital rail artery into the South West, and out to the rest of the Britain, for future generations. This includes three studies in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

In November 2018, a 9-month plan of work began to repair the breakwaters at Dawlish as they were not providing the required level of protection this section of rail line requires and in summer 2019 we began work to replace the existing sea wall on Marine Parade, Dawlish.

Dawlish: five years since the storm that collapsed the railway

The route and the impact of the environment and extreme weather

The route runs through the Exe estuary alongside open coastline between Dawlish and Teignmouth, and the Teign estuary. It was originally selected as it was the only area that offered a level foundation for trains to travel along. However, since its construction the route has been constrained and impacted by its environment.

Long-term resilience

The Government subsequently tasked us with conducting a study into the long-term resilience of the railway line to the South West peninsula.

Network Rail commissioned the engineering company CH2M Hill (now a part of Jacobs) to conduct a study into the future options for the route between Exeter and Newton Abbot. The full study documents are below.

Get in touch

If you have any additional questions or concerns about the work taking place in your area please call our dedicated 24-hour National Helpline on: 03457 11 41 41 or visit our contact us page.

Our projects and proposals