Work has started on the second section of the new, bigger sea wall at Dawlish, Devon, to protect the railway and town from rising sea levels, and extreme weather, for generations to come.
One of the most noticeable features of the work will be the use of an innovative eight-legged, self-contained walking jack-up barge, known as a ‘Wavewalker’. The ‘Wavewalker’ is only one of its kind in Europe and it will be the first time this type of barge has been used to maintain the UK rail network.
Principal contractor BAM Nuttall will use this innovative piece of equipment to access the sea face of the railway embankment along Marine Parade and help deliver the piling at the sea wall. The ‘Wavewalker’ benefits from being able to operate across high tidal ranges that particularly impact the south Devon coastline, that would otherwise restrict the number of hours it is possible to safely work on the sea wall.
Construction of this next section of the £80 million upgrade will take around two years to complete and follows years of detailed studies, designs and joint working between world-leading marine, coastal and railway engineering experts.
The first part, from Dawlish station to the Coastguard breakwater east of the station is expected to be completed in late 2021.The final part between the station and the Colonnade breakwater, which will link up the new wall at Marine Parade, will start to be built shortly after.