Parsons Tunnel to Teignmouth project history

We’re proposing to realign the tracks between Parsons Tunnel and Teignmouth in order to make room for corrective measures to stabilise the cliffs and therefore protect the railway for generations to come.

Background information

Our proposals

Public consultation update

Earlier this year, we consulted on our updated plans to protect this vital 1.8km stretch of railway.

The line, which is bordered by steep cliffs on one side and the sea on the other, is at risk from cliff falls, landslips and damage caused by extreme weather which is set to increase as climate change takes hold.

Our plans would realign the railway to make room for corrective measures to stabilise the cliffs, and protect the railway from the sea, improving resilience for the line which connects the South West to the rest of the UK.

The updated proposals mean more of the beach is would be retained, with improved leisure access and amenities including new, fully accessible coastal walking routes.

Consultation activity

Between 20 January and 1 March 2020, we held 11 community events at venues including Holcombe, Dawlish, Dawlish Warren, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Torquay and Exeter, which were attended by 2,840 people. A 10m long, 1:200 scale model of the scheme was on display to help us explain the updated design.

We also held an event for students and staff at Plymouth University and attended tourism summits in Devon and Cornwall, raised awareness among passengers through promotion of the consultation on trains and in railway stations, as well as through the media, our website and social media.

Our webpage received 4,670 visits during the six-week period and we reached 208,710 people through 58 posts on Facebook and Twitter.

We received 1,605 responses from the public and stakeholders via post, email and our consultation website.


The 2020 consultation saw an increase of more than 1,200 attendees and 1,100 responses compared with the first round in 2019.

This increase reflects the growing public interest in the scheme, particularly from residents of Teignmouth and Holcombe.

While there remains strong support for making the railway more resilient, the increase in responses from daily and weekly visitors to the coastal path directly correlated to the increase in people who strongly disagreed with the scheme design.

Feedback summary

  • 73% of people agree/strongly agree that the railway between Parson’s Tunnel and Teignmouth needs to be more resilient, rising by 1% from the consultation in 2019.  Additionally, those that disagree/strongly disagree fell from 19% in 2019 to 13% in 2020. 
  • 41% of people agree/strongly agree with our proposals to make the railway more resilient. However, in 2020 there has been an 8% increase in those who disagree/strongly disagree (51%).  
  • More than half of respondents (67%) visit this section of the coast on a daily or weekly basis. 
  • Support for the creation of the new coastal path and amenity has remained largely stable, with 54% of people in support/strong support.
  • 82% of respondents in 2020 said they used this section of the railway sometimes or frequently.
  • There is strong support to increase railway resilience across all rail users, regardless of the frequency of travel.
  • Those who travel by rail most frequently show strongest support for the proposals. However, there is also disagreement with the proposals regardless of the frequency of rail travel.
  • The most frequent visitors to this section of the coast show higher levels of opposition to the scheme. Those who visit less frequently are more likely to show strong support for the resilience plans.

A more detailed summary of the feedback is available in our interim consultation report which is available to download below.

The 2020 consultation asked consultees to provide further comments on the plans and/or give feedback on how they could be improved. More than 2,000 comments were received on a range of themes. All the verbatim comments are available to download below.

Consultation comments

Next steps

We received some good and considered feedback from our consultation, which can positively influence our plans, and it is important that we get this significant scheme right.

As a result of the feedback, we are now refining the plans even further with a view to sharing these revisions with the public in 2021. We’re now working through this detail; once we have our refined plans, we will schedule a further round of public consultation before applying to the Secretary of State for a Transport and Works Act Order to seek permission to carry out the work. This application will not be submitted until we’ve done this further engagement.

We have written to 16,000 residents in the consultation area with a leaflet summarising the results. This letter and supporting leaflet can be found below.

Letter and leaflet to local residents

Environmental implications

A full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is being undertaken and will be presented in an Environmental Statement as part of our application for a Transport and Works Act Order.

This will identify any significant short and long-term impacts on the environment and include measures to reduce or manage them, including opportunities for habitat creation to allow existing or new species to thrive.

Protecting the environment is a vital part of the proposed scheme. We are consulting with a wide range of statutory and non-statutory bodies including the local authority, Environment Agency, Natural England and Marine Management Organisation. This includes identifying where new marine and terrestrial habitats can be created or improved to mitigate the potential impacts of the works.

The full list of consultees and scope of the environmental impact assessment is available in the full consultation document.

Any part of the assessment already completed will be reviewed in line with any proposed changes to the scheme.

What are the benefits?

More reliable journeys:

Improving the resilience of the railway means more reliable journeys for the millions of people that choose to travel by train to and from the South West each year. It also means greater certainty for freight operators that transport vital materials from the South West to the rest of the Britain.

A boost to the regional economy:

As the main route connecting the South West peninsula to the rest of the Britain, improving the resilience of the railway through South Devon will provide a significant boost to the regional and national economy.

New leisure opportunities:

The proposals would provide improved leisure and amenities including new, fully accessible, coastal walking and cycling routes.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the plans, you can send us an email at:

You can also visit our contact us page, call our 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41 or you can contact us on Twitter at @SouthWestRRP