Have your say on proposals to protect section of vital south west rail line bordered by steep cliffs and the sea: IMG 3027

Wednesday 5 Jun 2019

Have your say on proposals to protect section of vital south west rail line bordered by steep cliffs and the sea

Region & Route:
Wales and Western
  • Local communities asked to help shape the final design of changes to the rail line in south Devon which needs to be better protected from cliff falls, land slips and damage caused by the sea during extreme weather
  • Public consultation opens on 10 June
  • Five-week consultation will include details of the realignment of the railway to make room for corrective measures to stabilise the cliffs
  • The plans include improved leisure facilities and amenities including new, fully accessible, coastal walking and cycling routes

Views are being sought from residents, communities, businesses and rail users on a series of significant changes to a section of railway line in south Devon that is bordered by steep cliffs on one side and the sea on the other.  

The 1.8km stretch of railway between Parsons Tunnel, near Holcombe, and Teignmouth, which was closed for six weeks following a landslide in 2014, needs to be better protected from cliff falls, land slips and damage caused by the sea during extreme weather.  

The consultation will run for five weeks from 10 June until 15 July 2019.

The cliffs pose the greatest threat to the railway line in this location, between Parsons Tunnel and Teignmouth, so the proposals include moving the railway away from the sections of cliff that pose the greatest hazard.

The design would require some land reclamation to allow a buttress (a sloping rock structure to stabilise the cliffs and protect the railway) to be built. To protect the realigned railway from the sea, a rock revetment or enhanced sea wall will also be required to absorb the energy of the waves and allow for the railway to be relocated away from the cliffs.

The proposals also include enhanced leisure access, cycling and walking routes and new amenity areas so that users of Holcombe beach continue to enjoy the space and views of the Devon coastline.

Residents and interested parties are invited to provide feedback on the proposals to help finalise the designs. From 10 June, the detailed proposals will be published online at www.networkrail.co.uk/SouthWestRRP and venues across the region such as council offices and libraries.

There will then be 10 consultation events in and around the local area to enable people to find out more, ask questions and express their views. It will be possible to respond to the consultation online, by email or in writing via a freepost feedback form.

Mark Langman, route managing director for Network Rail’s Western route, said: “The railway is a vital artery to the South West, which communities, businesses and visitors to the region depend on for connecting with the ­rest of the UK.

“Since we published early concepts in 2016 we have been working hard to refine our proposals as a direct result of the public feedback we received. The latest plans minimise the impact on the beach, allow for new and improved amenities such as cycling and foot paths and will protect the railway for generations to come. We would like to hear views on our updated proposals to allow us to refine them further before we apply for consent to undertake the work.”

Following the consultation, all responses will be analysed, and Network Rail will incorporate the feedback into updated plans which will be publicised through a second round of consultation this autumn.

Notes to Editors

In 2014, there was a major landslip near Holcombe which dislodged thousands of tonnes of cliff material on to the track. For six weeks, all rail connectivity in and out of South Devon and Cornwall was severed – cutting off 50 towns and cities from the rest of the country. This dramatically highlighted the vulnerability of the route, and urgent works were required to get trains running again beyond Exeter. The damage cost tens of millions of pounds to repair. The cost to the local and regional economy was far higher. Since then, Network Rail has been developing plans to improve resilience of the railway between Exeter and Newton Abbot. Key to these plans is the Parson’s Tunnel to Teignmouth Resilience Project.

With the support of world leading coastal, marine and railway engineers Network Rail has been investigating the best long-term solutions to make this section of the railway more resilient. The cliffs from Parson’s Tunnel to Teignmouth have been separated into 15 distinct areas and assessed for their varying geological characteristics and risk profile.

As well as installing monitoring equipment on sections of the cliffs, detailed geological and marine surveys have included taking rock samples from deep within the cliffs, the beach and the sea bed.

In tandem, data for climate change and sea level forecasts has been analysed while, at all times, considering the impact on the environment of any potential changes that are proposed.

List of consultation events


Dawlish Town council office

The Manor House
Old Town Street

Tuesday 11 June – Council Chamber


Monday 24 June – Mayors Parlour




4pm to 8pm


Holcombe (Village Hall)

Holcombe, Dawlish


Thursday 13 June

Thursday 27 June

2pm to 6pm

4pm to 8pm


Teignmouth Town Council

Bitton House, Teignmouth

TQ14 9DF

Wednesday 12 June

Wednesday 26 June


4pm to 8pm


Exeter Community Centre

17 St. Davids Hill, Exeter


Tuesday 25 June

4pm to 8pm

Newton Abbot

The Avenue Church

The Avenue, Newton Abbot

 TQ12 2BY

Monday 10 June

Saturday 29 June

1pm to 5pm

12pm to 4pm


The Windmill Centre

Pendennis Rd, Torquay


Friday 28 June

1pm to 5pm

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office -Western route
07730 354394

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