Home General Interest Innovative ‘Wavewalker’ to help build Dawlish sea wall

Innovative ‘Wavewalker’ to help build Dawlish sea wall

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.

Dawlish Wavewalker.

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.

Nigel Wordsworth BSc(Hons) MCIJhttp://therailengineer.com

SPECIALIST AREAS Rolling stock, mechanical equipment, project reports, executive interviews


Nigel Wordsworth graduated with an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Nottingham University, after which he joined the American aerospace and industrial fastener group SPS Technologies. After a short time at the research laboratories in Pennsylvania, USA, Nigel became responsible for applications engineering to industry in the UK and Western Europe. At this time he advised on various engineering projects, from Formula 1 to machine tools, including a particularly problematic area of bogie design for the HST.

A move to the power generation and offshore oil supply sector followed as Nigel became director of Entwistle-Sandiacre, a subsidiary of the Australian-owned group Aurora plc. At the same time, Nigel spent ten years as a Technical Commissioner with the RAC Motor Sports Association, responsible for drafting and enforcing technical regulations for national and international motor racing series.

Joining Rail Engineer in 2008, Nigel’s first assignment was a report on new three-dimensional mobile mapping and surveying equipment, swiftly followed by a look at vegetation control machinery. He continues to write on a variety of topics for most issues.

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