A FURTHER £32m of funding to add vital netting and fencing along the iconic but exposed coastal mainline railway to South Devon and Cornwall via Dawlish has today (April 1) been announced by Rail Minister Wendy Morton, with the aim of protecting passengers and safeguarding access to the network for local residents,
This latest round of funding, which follows on from three earlier phases of work and takes the total to more than £150m, will prevent storm debris reaching the railway creating strong resilient transport links to the area and giving passengers safer and more reliable journeys.
Following the devastating storms of 2014, which saw the railway damaged beyond use for eight weeks, the Government intervened to prevent this from happening again by launching the South West Rail Resilience Programme (SWRRP). The SWRRP is a £155m commitment to create a more resilient railway, protect the safety of passengers passing along the Dawlish sea wall and ensuring that local communities in Devon and Cornwall are no longer at risk from being disconnected from the network for long periods of time.
Through this funding the Government has successfully rebuilt the sea wall along the Marine Parade, has added further cliff protection measures and has implemented accessibility improvements.
Rail Minister Wendy Morton said: “Devon’s iconic sea wall, and the picturesque towns surrounding it, are jewels in the British crown, and we’re committed to protecting this vital line and the communities it serves.
“Through our wider £155m investment, we’re also working to boost connectivity and support the thriving local economy and tourism.”
The new funding is part of the SWRRP £155m Government investment to level up connections in the South West and deliver reliable and punctual journeys across Devon and Cornwall , boosting the local economy and tourism in the process. This includes:
A £53m complete upgrade to the train care depot in Exeter improving service reliability and capacity for passengers across the region.
£80m of funding to deliver a new sea wall at Dawlish, between Colonnades Bridge and Kennaway Tunnel, which opened in 2020 with the next phase of work to the east, currently under construction.
Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western route director, said: “We are delighted to once again receive the support from government which enables us to carry out the next phase of our resilience work between Dawlish and Teignmouth.
“This will mean that passengers using GWR and CrossCountry services on this vital rail link to and from the South West will have more reliable journeys as the railway along the Devon coast will be better protected from rising sea levels, extreme weather, landslips and rockfalls for the next 100 years.”