Dawlish railway line reopens after two months
The Dawlish railway line connecting Cornwall and much of Devon to the rest of the UK was reopened today after two months.
Parts of the track had been destroyed during the winter storms in early February cutting off the services.
Strong winds had also damaged the sea wall of the coast running parallel to the line leaving the tracks dangling in mid-air.
The “orange army” known for their safety wear started the repair works that were stalled after another severe storm hit the countryside, punching a huge hole in the sea wall on the night of 14th February.
It has taken 6,000 tonnes of concrete, 150 tonnes of steel, 600 metre of parapet wall repair, more than 13 miles of new cable and 25,000 tonnes of collapsed cliff removed to build the Dawlish line again.
In total, £15 million has been spent to repair the area outside Dawlish station and another £20 million to repair the tracks on either side of the town.
Network Rail chief executive Mark Crane thanked the “hugely supportive and patient local communities and businesses”.
Mark said: “Our army of engineers has done an amazing job of putting back together a railway that was ravaged by the elements. They have overcome every obstacle thrown at them, winning many battles along the way to restore this critical piece of the network, ahead of schedule, and in time for the Easter holidays.”
Celebrating the line reopening, sticks of rock were given out today at London’s Paddington station; they were labelled “Welcome back Dawlish! The orange army has rebuilt the railway so you can enjoy your journey to the South West again”.
The first passenger train left at 05:34 BST from Exeter to Paignton today.
Prime minster David Cameron travelled to Dawlish to mark the reopening and praised the “Herculean effort” put together by 300 Network Rail team members to bring the line back to life.
Mr Cameron said: “This is a great day for the hard-working people of Dawlish, and for businesses and commuters across the South West whose lives have been turned upside down by the devastating loss of their train line. I am delighted to say that promise has been delivered today. A promise which says that the South West is well and truly open for business.”
Though the line has been reopened, the engineers will continue to work on a less critical phase; that includes restoring the signalling and electronic equipment, removing the shipping container temporary sea wall, as well as, rebuilding the Brunel’s original sea wall.
The workmen would also be restoring the public footpath on the seaward side and rebuilding the lost road at Riviera Terrace so that the residents cut off by the breach can fully return to their homes.