Dawlish Sea Wall Network Rail Build Breakwater In A Week – Feb 2014

Dawlish sea wall supporting railway line washed away 4 February 2014.  By 12 February a breakwater had been built.  Why wasn’t this done before?

The Problem


The Solution


The Questions

If Network Rail could come up with a solution, even though a temporary one, why was nothing done before?  Was this beyond Environment Agency’s capabilities or was it because funding wasn’t available?

At Clacton-on-Sea and Holland-on-Sea there have been no effective repairs to groynes since at least 2000, EA have declined to pay for them on the grounds there wasn’t sufficient benefit for the cost.

Hey TDC guys perhaps you should have approached Network Rail!

The Timeline

from Network Rail

Wednesday 12 February

11 shipping containers are welded together and filled with sand and stone to form a new temporary sea wall, and scaffolding is erected to give workers better access to start repairs. Work progresses on building a cable bridge so we can pass services and signalling equipment over the rail bed to allow us to reconnect and take the recabling.

Tuesday 11 February

Construction starts on a temporary sea-wall using sand and stone-filled shipping containers, and scaffolding is being erected to start work on the rebuild.

Monday 10 February

A temporary breakwater is erected from rubble-filled shipping containers allowing the start of repairs to the main area of damage. Sunday 9 February A row of shipping containers is being put in place and filled with rubble to provide a breakwater, and concrete spraying continues between high tides.

Saturday 8 February

Rail and concrete sleepers cut away, placed across the bottom of the damaged section and being reinforced with sprayed fast-drying concrete. It is hoped this will absorb enough of the force of the waves so that the weakened sub-soil will not erode further. Specialist contractors, engineers and suppliers from across the country are mobilised and the offer of discussions with the Ministry of Defence to see if there is any help available from armed forces based in the south-west. The most damaged platform at Dawlish station has been demolished and will be rebuilt in the coming weeks. Services have resumed between Plymouth and Newton Abbot, but there will be no trains east of Newton Abbot to Exeter until the line is repaired.

Friday 7 February

Rails and sleepers cut away from the hole and removed so it is safe for staff to remove debris. Concrete spraying begins, with the aim of shoring up the sea wall before another Atlantic storm system arrives on Saturday, while work is ongoing to demolish the most damaged platform at Dawlish station itself, prior to rebuilding.

Thursday 6 February

Machinery is delivered to site and work begins. Rails and sleepers spanning the hole in the sea wall are cut off and removed. A ramp into hole constructed to facilitate access. Wednesday 5 February At first light on Wednesday, engineers arrive on site but are unable to assess the damage due to the continuing storm. Teams of engineers, contractors and suppliers head to Dawlish. Work begins at the on site compound to store machinery to shore up damage, including spray-concrete equipment.

Tuesday 4 February

Weather forecasts warn of a major storm off the coast of Devon and Cornwall. Our system of marine buoys predict ‘black’ storm conditions, with six-metre waves – the first ‘black’ conditions predicted since we installed the system in 2007. At 3.15pm the line through Dawlish is closed to trains, staff are withdrawn to safe locations. Through the evening, serious overtopping by waves is reported. Reports of damage to the railway and adjoining land start coming through at around 9pm. Track inspections between 11pm and 2.30am confirm the extent of the damage.

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