£10M BRINGS RAIL IMPROVEMENT TO DEVON PASSENGERS: Railway track in Marley down tunnel will be renewed

Friday 16 Jan 2009


Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western
The railway line between Exeter – Plymouth is set to become more reliable to passengers. A series of improvements will be made to six separate sections on the Devon line, starting with more than two weeks of intensive work at the Marley Tunnel, Dawlish sea cliff and Plymouth station in January.

Altogether, half a mile of new railway track, 1,500 sleepers, 3,000 tonnes of ballast, more than a mile of new drainage pipes, five sets of points and 15,000m2of cliff nets will be installed.

Dave Ward, route director for Network Rail said: “These improvements will bring tremendous benefits for Devon passengers, delivering a more reliable railway for many years to come. It will also reduce the need for intrusive maintenance and the track works should provide passengers with a much smoother ride.

“For the last 18 months, we have been working extremely closely with train operators to find ways to deliver these improvements without having to cause major inconvenience to passengers. We will be working on a single line during weekdays and work mostly on Sundays, so that majority of the peak services can continue to run. Our engineers will also be working non-stop throughout the night to avoid causing disruption to services during the day.”

As part of the intensive programme of work, engineers will be fixing cliff nets onto the 40-metres high Dawlish sea cliff to reduce the risk of rock fall. A unique, high-tech early warning system will also be installed on the cliff to effectively detect rock falls and automatically alert the signal box for actions. The system will help reduce the number of speed restrictions and improve the efficiency of train services especially during poor weather conditions.

At the same time, engineers will also be prevailing over challenges posed by the Victorian-era Marley Tunnel as they renew life-expired track that runs through the half-mile long, down line single-bored structure. Constructed in the 1890s, the tunnel measures around 4 metres wide and is only accessible by engineers through each end of the tunnel.

Also, more than £2m will be invested on renewing five sets of switches and crossings near Plymouth station.

To enable the delivery of these projects from 16 January – 2 February, there will be some changes to passenger services. Trains on the Devon line will continue to run and to an amended time-table on the weekdays during this period.

Alternative transport services will be available to passengers throughout the two weeks, which include the weekends, to replace cancelled train services.

Following the intensive programme, work at the Dawlish sea cliff will continue while the remaining series of track improvement work carries on at Exeter St Davids, Exminster, Dawlish and Dainton for eight weekends (until end of March).

To minimise the inconvenience caused to passengers, these work will only start on Saturday nights and continue throughout the day on Sundays.

Passengers are advised to check their travel time with their train operators or National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50 before they start their journey.

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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

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