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4 April 2013

Dawlish railway line reopens, UK

The storm damaged railway line at Dawlish in south Devon, England, has reopened following emergency repair work. The line, which connects the south west of England to the rest of the United Kingdom, was wrecked in early February when massive waves left the track dangling in mid-air. Mott MacDonald provided project management and cost control services to Network Rail during the track reinstatement.

Following a severe storm on the February 4 the seawall around the Dawlish coast was breached in numerous places along a 6.5km stretch of track. An emergency response was put in place the next day, however continued bad weather prevented teams from fully assessing the damage. A temporary seawall of rubble filled shipping containers was set-up on the beach, but 10 days later another big storm increased damage on the already weakened seawall by 30%.

Contractors BAM Nuttall, AMCO and Dyer and Butler were allocated various sections and lengths of seawall and track to repair and Sisk was responsible for Dawlish Station. Teams worked around the clock in many areas. The main seawall breach, outside Dawlish Station, had over 6,000cu m of concrete pumped into it within two weeks. This created a robust track bed for installation of the precast L-sections which form the new outer seawall and inner wall to the roadway.

The response team faced further challenges when the cliff face, north east of Teignmouth Station, sheared, leaving 20,000 tonnes of sandstone hanging perilously above the track. Mott MacDonald’s geotechnical experts advised on methods to stabilise the slip face, creating controlled landslides to move the rock with the help of the Devon and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. Thousands of litres of water were sprayed every minute onto the landslip to encourage it to complete its fall to the railway below. After consultations with Cornwall’s china clay industry, a high pressure water cannon was also brought onto site and proved very effective at turning the red earth of the slip into slurry that ran off into the sea.

Mott MacDonald’s senior project manager Glynn Eley, said: “The spirit of collaboration among the whole team has been remarkable on this challenging project. A real ‘can do’ attitude prevailed and with extraordinary co-operation, great things have been achieved in a short space of time. Our team will continue to offer support to Network Rail once trains begin to operate on the line again.”

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