Devon

Dawlish rail line: Backing for alternative route

Dawlish Image copyright Steve Briers
Image caption The Dawlish sea wall and track was swept away in February, cutting off Devon and Cornwall

Train track owner Network Rail has won government backing to start looking into alternative routes to Dawlish.

The line closed was for about two months after storms left tracks dangling in mid-air, cutting off Cornwall and much of Devon from the rest of the UK.

Alternative rail lines had been described as "poor value for money", a Network Rail report said in July.

However, ministers said it was "crucial" links were maintained.

The sea wall supporting the coast-hugging line was swept away on 5 February.

Dawlish line rebuild in numbers

  • 6,000 tonnes of concrete
  • 150 tonnes of steel
  • 25,000 tonnes of collapsed cliff removed at Teignmouth
  • Hundreds of tonnes of debris removed
  • 600m of parapet wall repaired
  • More than 13 miles of new cable installed
  • More than 700m of track and ballast replaced

Source: Network Rail

A 300-strong Network Rail team then rebuilt the track at a cost of £35m, with Prime Minister David Cameron praising the "Herculean effort" of workers on round-the-clock shifts.

The line reopened in April.

Network Rail had been looking at creating a new inland route as a back-up to the Dawlish line, including an alternative route via the north side of Dartmoor through Okehampton. However, such alternatives were later described as "poor value".

However, floods minister Dan Rogerson said it was "crucial that we protect that link for all those communities across south Devon and south east Cornwall, and coming down to the west".

He added: "But I believe there is a real opportunity to do something more imaginative to restore rail connections across the middle of Devon, and also bring it closer to communities like Launceston and Bude, which haven't had it for generations."

The Department for Transport said it would work with council and other groups to "undertake a feasibility study into re-opening the rail route ... through Okehampton."

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