DEVON RAIL IMPROVEMENT WORK COMPLETED: Engineers working with a single opened to passengers

Tuesday 3 Feb 2009


Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western
Network Rail engineers have completed an intensive package of rail improvement work in Devon, prevailing over challenges posed by the victorian-era Marley tunnel and poor weather conditions.

Over the last two weeks, engineers have improved the infrastructure at Marley Tunnel and Plymouth as part of a £10m investment to bring a more reliable service to passengers. In total, half a mile of new railway track, 1,500 sleepers, 3,000 tonnes of ballast and five sets of points have been completely revamped.

Route director Dave Ward says: "We have had people working round the clock in some really challenging conditions. Despite being limited by the poor access to the single-bored Marley Tunnel and the unpredictable weather conditions, our work was delivered on schedule. The credit goes to the entire team, including our contractors, for their dedication to bring about these important improvements for passengers. We also wish to thank our passengers for their patience whilst the works took place."

Engineers have been working in the eastbound tunnel to renew life-expired tracks while the westbound tunnel remained open to passenger services. Marley Tunnel is constructed in the 1890s and measures around 4 metres wide and is only accessible by engineers through each end of the tunnel. Work was also carried out at Plymouth station to improve switches and crossings.

The improvement work at Dawlish seacliff, which also started two weeks ago, will continue until this Summer. The work will not affect train services.

Engineers will be abseiling down the 40-metres high cliff to install cliff nettings that will help 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 required and improve the efficiency of train services especially during poor weather conditions.

The remaining track renewal programmes, part of the £10m investment, will be carried out at Exeter St Davids, Exminster, Dawlish and Dainton over the next eight weekends (until end of March). Some train service alterations will remain in place over these weekends.

Peak services will not be affected as 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.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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