The UK’s Network Rail has commenced work to build the second section of the Dawlish sea wall, an £80m project conceived to protect a key rail link to the south-west.
The construction work for the 415m wall section began following detailed studies and joint programmes with experts. It is expected to take two years to complete.
The stretch of the wall from Dawlish station to the Coastguard breakwater east of the station is slated for completion in late next year.
Subsequently, the construction works for the section between the station and the Colonnade breakwater will begin.
Contractor BAM Nuttall will use an eight-legged, self-contained walking jack-up barge called Wavewalker for the project. The system will enable the contractor to access the sea face of the railway embankment along Marine Parade and carry out piling works.
The new wall will be higher than the existing barrier and feature a curved edge to deflect the sea waves.
UK Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “I’m really pleased to see that work is starting on the next phase of the sea wall and that the innovative ‘Wavewalker’ is being used to construct it – a first for UK rail.
“Our investment will provide a resilient railway for generations to come, and forms part of our commitment to deliver reliable, punctual journeys across Devon and Cornwall, helping the south-west build back better, supporting the local economy and tourism.”
Network Rail senior programme manager Ewen Morrison said: “Our plans have been drawn up by world-leading engineers and it will provide greater protection to the railway and town from rising sea levels and extreme weather.
“We will continue to update the community with how our work is progressing.”
In 2014, a powerful storm and subsequent floods devastated the Dawlish coastline and the railway infrastructure.
Thereafter, the sea wall was planned to protect the coastal railway line and increase its resilience against such calamities.
In September, the authorities opened the first section of the sea wall.