Rock Fall Shelter Plans Approved



Teignbridge District Council has approved Network Rail’s proposal to extend an existing rockfall shelter over the railway line between Dawlish and Holcombe in Devon, at a cost of £37.4M, funded by the Department for Transport. Network Rail will begin construction work on the 209m long extension of the rockfall shelter north of Parsons Tunnel this August. This will help protect trains against falling rocks and debris along the section of vital railway that connects Devon and Cornwall with the rest of the UK. As part of the project, Network Rail will extend the Parsons Tunnel by providing a rockfall shelter in modern materials, but with open sides to allow rail passengers to enjoy the views of the south west coastline. The current brick built enclosed tunnel extension was done 100 years ago. The rockfall shelter is the third phase of work as part of Network Rail’s South West Rail Resilience Programme. It will be constructed out of pre-made concrete wall panels and beams on the roof, covered by a cushioning material to absorb the impact of any rockfalls. However, the construction of the rockfall shelter at this location poses a number of engineering challenges, Network Rail has said, due to the limited access with the track flanked by high cliffs on one side and the sea on the other. Despite these challenges, preparatory work at the top of the cliffs overlooking the railway began on 22 March when Network Rail engineers started cutting back some of the vegetation. This work is still ongoing and is being closely monitored to ensure the least amount of disruption for wildlife habitats and biodiversity. Network Rail’s Western route interim director Chris Pearce said: "We are pleased that Teignbridge District Council has approved this third section of the South West Rail Resilience Programme and thank members and officers for their thorough reviews of our plans. The coastal location of the railway in south Devon is truly stunning but it also presents its biggest challenge with the sea on one side and steep cliffs on the other. The existing rockfall shelter has proven its effectiveness for a century, and so this modern extended structure will protect the railway for generations to come alongside a section of cliff that is becoming increasingly hazardous from rock falls.” Work on the rockfall shelter is expected to take around a year to complete.

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