Network Rail has started work on a new bigger sea wall at Dawlish, Devon, which will provide greater protection to the railway and the town from rising sea levels and extreme weather for generations to come.
The news comes less than a month after Network Rail awarded the contract for the first phase of construction to BAM Nuttall.
The upgrade, which started on 1 June, will take nine months to complete and follows years of detailed studies, designs and joint working between world leading marine, coastal and railway engineering experts.
The new sea wall is vital, says Network Rail, not just for Dawlish but for the whole of the south west peninsula, as the railway connects communities in 50 towns and cities with the rest of the UK.
Once complete the new sea wall will be 2.5 metres higher than the existing wall, have a curved edge to send waves back towards the sea, and have a wider safer promenade with seating which will keep the clear views of the coast that the existing wall has.
The new sea wall will be complete in early 2020 with work stopping during the peak summer season to minimise disruption on the local community and tourism in the area. An information point will also be available in Dawlish so residents can receive regular updates with how work on the new wall is progressing.
David Lovell, Network Rail senior programme manager for the Dawlish sea wall project, said: “We are pleased to have started work on delivering this vital upgrade that will protect the rail artery to the south west for the next 100 years. 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.”