Network Rail has recently announced it has awarded a contract to AMCO to increase the freeboard to the Dawlish sea wall.
The sea wall, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1846, protects the railway line between Newton Abbott station and Exeter St David’s station.The sea wall was breached in February 2014 and left the railway track suspended in mid-air, completely exposed to the elements. The breach expanded to more than 90 metres in length by the middle of February and the formation and track ballast behind the wall had been washed away to sea.
Network Rail temporarily reinstated the railway in April after AMCO and BAM Nuttall constructed temporary sea defences, but now the challenge lies in providing a more permanent solution against extreme weather.
A new wall will be built in front of the existing sea wall to provide further protection against extreme weather in addition to the reconstruction of a walkway which, level with the sections on either side, will be accessible in all tidal conditions.
AMCO will increase the freeboard by raising the low-level footpath from the coast guard ramp. A full GPR survey and ground investigation will need to be completed prior to any works commencing. A floating barge will be erected for the duration of the project which will enable removal of temporary sea wall defences currently being used and also constructed by AMCO earlier on in the year following the storms.
It is anticipated that improvement works will continue until early 2015.