“The route around the coast will re­main there in our life­times” - NR West­ern Route MD com­mits to pro­tect­ing the line.

Rail (UK) - - Contents - Paul Stephen As­sis­tant Fea­tures Ed­i­tor paul.stephen@bauer­me­dia.co.uk @paul_rail

NET­WORK Rail’s West­ern Route Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Mark Langman has re-pledged NR’s com­mit­ment to mak­ing the coastal route at Dawlish more re­silient.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with RAIL, Langman said that NR does not have a pre­ferred plan at the mo­ment for de­fend­ing the line from bad weather and the ef­fects of cli­mate change, but that it would be suf­fi­ciently pro­tected to “re­main there in our life­times”.

His com­ments come more than nine months since NR pub­lished its Ex­eter to New­ton Ab­bot GeoEn­vi­ron­ment Re­silience Study Ex­ec­u­tive Sum­mary for Win­ter 2016-17 ( RAIL 815), which of­fered five coastal de­fence op­tions and six geo-tech­ni­cal op­tions that are de­signed to pre­vent any re-oc­cur­rence of the in­fa­mous sea wall fail­ure in Fe­bru­ary 2014. The line was closed for two months for re­pairs.

In­creased re­silience is also needed to mit­i­gate the risks posed by a pro­jected sea level rise of up to 55cm by 2065.

Coastal de­fence op­tions in­clude ex­tend­ing the sea wall fur­ther out to sea, rais­ing the height of the sea wall, and us­ing beach man­age­ment tech­niques such as groynes and off­shore break­wa­ters. Geo-tech­ni­cal op­tions iden­ti­fied by the study in­clude re-grad­ing the sur­round­ing cliffs to re­duce their gra­di­ent, im­prov­ing drainage, and ex­tend­ing ex­ist­ing rock fall shel­ters to re­duce the risk of dis­rup­tion.

The over­all in­vest­ment out­lined in the strat­egy was more than £600 mil­lion, but NR said that some in­ter­ven­tions should be pri­ori­tised for de­liv­ery in Con­trol Pe­riod 6 (2019-24), while oth­ers could be de­ferred. The study was sent to the De­part­ment for Trans­port to de­cide on the best course of ac­tion and to find fund­ing.

Mean­while, the Gov­ern­ment has pro­vided £10m to NR for fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of its short, medium and long-term plans, to pro­tect the rail­way be­fore any plans are put to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Langman said: “We learned a lot from 2014 and re­built the line pretty quickly. But the re­al­ity is, in the long term, that th­ese things could hap­pen more of­ten. We’re spend­ing in the re­gion of £10m to look at what the op­tions are go­ing for­ward - for in­stance, do we move the rail­way fur­ther from the sea, and what do we do about the cliffs at Teign­mouth?

“The Gov­ern­ment has helped us fund that, and we’ll need to come up with a fi­nal set of plans and then see how we can fund that. We don’t have a pre­ferred op­tion at the mo­ment, but we’ve got lots of op­tions.”

He added: “What we can safely say is that the route around the coast will re­main there in our life­times, and we need to come up with the right so­lu­tion for the money that is go­ing to be avail­able.

“Ev­ery­one will have a view on it be­cause it’s part of our her­itage, so we must lis­ten to what peo­ple say lo­cally. We don’t want to dam­age tourism or the qual­ity of life down there, but ev­ery­one wants to keep the rail­way there so there is a bal­ance to be had some­where in the mid­dle of that.” ■ For the full in­ter­view with Mark Langman, see RAIL 836.


A Voy­ager passes Riviera Ter­race (Dawlish) with CrossCoun­try’s 0644 New­cas­tle-Ply­mouth ser­vice on July 24, as Great West­ern Rail­way 43170 trails the 1000 Pen­zance-Padding­ton ser­vice. The trains are travers­ing the 100-me­tre sec­tion of sea wall that...

Langman: “The route around the coast will re­main there in our life­times.”

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