Upwards of 300 rail engineers and railway staff are working round the clock to rebuild the storm-hit coastal railway between Dawlish and Teignmouth.
Engineers believe the line could be reopened by 4th April – in time for the Easter holidays. Much of the line was destroyed by ferocious storms on 5th and 14th February. Surging sea water caused extensive damage breaching 100 metres of seawall at Riviera Terrace. There were also dramatic secondary breaches at Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth and five landslips around Smugglers Cove.
The main contractor on the breach repair is BAM Nuttall, with Sisk responsible for the platform repairs. Tony Gee, AMCO and Dyer and Butler were subcontracted for the project fielding top performing teams.
Rail engineers and track workers were helped by service personnel from the Army and Royal Marines bolstering efforts on several key parts of the project. Network Rail expressed its thanks to them.
Says new chief executive, Mark Carne, ‘This is just one example of the extraordinary efforts by the railway industry to restore services after the unprecedented floods and storms of this winter that affected many passengers up and down the country.
For now, let me express the railway industry’s gratitude for the support and understanding shown by passengers and the country as a whole.’
Local tourist chief, Carolyn Custerson, marked out railway staff for special praise. ‘We offer a massive thanks to the team at Network Rail who are working tirelessly to repair the line,’ she said.
The main 100m breach was repaired with nearly 5,000 tonnes of concrete and 150 tonnes of steel. The 300-strong team is installing 120m of large concrete wall sections, repairing 525m of parapet walls and renewing 13 miles of cables between Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth. 18 steel containers were installed at the main breach to serve as a temporary breakwater.
‘I know that Network Rail staff have been working tirelessly to get the line up and running as soon as possible. I would like to thank everyone for their hard work so far,’ said Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin.
Rail analysts are now looking at further strengthening sea defences in the region as well as re-opening in the additional inland route.