Sunday, 9 February 2014


I'd like to pay tribute to the engineers that are currently working to fix the railway line at Dawlish, where the sea wall that protects the railway line and houses has been breached by the recent bad weather.

When I first saw the pictures, my inexpert reaction was that the house that was left right at the edge of the breach would have to be demolished. But their work has saved it for the moment - they laid sections of the damaged track against the remaining earth, and are covering the lot with shotcrete (sprayable concrete) to form a temporary barrier.

In the meantime, they are placing 20-foot shipping containers along the recently-installed concrete toe of the wall, which is undamaged, and filling them with rubble to act as barriers to protect workmen from the worst of the waves. This is an act of genius, and will hopefully allow them to speedily rebuild this breach.

It is at times like these that engineers really come into their own, and I've been really impressed with the work that they are doing. They've got some really good people on the job, despite other problems on the network caused by flooding.

It's also given me a reason to do a little research on the sea wall, which I know well from my childhood. The wall has withstood the weather over the last 160 years well, despite the infrequent breaches. In fact, the line is more often closed because of rock falls from the cliffs on the other side of the railway.

Let's hope the solutions modern engineers come up with last for a similar period.

The seawall near the breach, seen in happier times in 2003.

1 comment:

Postcards said...

Good for them. I have used that line many times on my journeys home to Cornwall, and this stretch has always been the highlight of the journey.