Railway restored in time for Easter
Devon and Cornwall’s rail link with the rest of the country reopened on 4 April,, following eight weeks of painstaking repairs to the storm-ravaged railway at Dawlish. The repairs have cost around £35m.
Mark Carne, chief executive, Network Rail, said: ‘Our army of engineers has done an amazing job of putting back together a railway that was ravaged by the elements. They have overcome every obstacle thrown at them, winning many battles along the way to restore this critical piece of the network, ahead of schedule, and in time for the Easter holidays.
‘The biggest thanks must be reserved for passengers and local communities and businesses who have been hugely supportive and patient over the past two months as we worked flat-out to rebuild this vital rail link.
‘Our focus now moves to the medium and long-term, looking at what can be done at Dawlish to make the current coastal route more resilient and, by the autumn, understand what the best viable relief route might be.’
Work carried out by Network Rail’s 300-strong ‘orange army’ of engineers has included:
- Building a temporary sea wall from 18 welded shipping containers to protect homes and engineers as they worked to repair a 100m breach at Riviera Terrace, Dawlish, following storms on 4 and 14 February,
- Filling the breach with more than 6,000 tonnes of concrete and 150 tonnes of steel,
- Removing 25,000 tonnes of collapsed cliff at Woodlands Avenue, Teignmouth, following a landslip on 4 March, using high pressure water cannon, fire hoses, helicopter-borne water bombs, specialist roped access team and ‘spider’ excavators,
- Repairing dozens of other sites along a four mile stretch of coastal railway, clearing hundred of tonnes of debris and repairing over 600m of parapet wall,
- Rebuilding half of Dawlish station with a new platform, new canopy and repainting throughout, with the finishing touches provided by TV gardener, Toby Buckland, and members of the Friends of Dawlish station,
- Installing over 13 miles of new cables, designed and installed a new temporary signalling system and replaced over 700m of track and ballast.
Engineers will now move to the less critical phase that includes:
- Fully restoring the signalling and electronic equipment – currently a normal service is running with some minor retiming with a temporary signalling solution,
- Removing the shipping container temporary sea wall,
- Rebuilding the original sea-wall at the breach site using original stone
- Restoring the public footpath on the seaward side of the sea wall,
- Rebuilding the ‘lost road’ at Riviera Terrace so residents can fully return.
- The Hastings to Tonbridge railway has also reopened to passengers, after being closed for a similar length of time to the Dawlish line.
After three serious landslips in late January and early February, Network Rail had hoped to fully reopen the route in early March, but the landslip at Whatlington moved again, despite considerable work having taken place to fix it.
In a joint statement, both Southeastern and Network Rail thanked customers for their patience. The normal train timetable resumed from the start of service on 31 March.