New drone footage reveals progress being made at Dawlish sea wall: Work is progressing well at the stilling basin

Friday 28 Oct 2022

New drone footage reveals progress being made at Dawlish sea wall

Region & Route:
Wales & Western
| Wales & Western: Western

Newly released aerial drone footage highlights Network Rail’s latest progress in linking the two sections of the £80m new bigger sea wall to protect the railway at Dawlish.

Network Rail’s contractors BAM Nuttall are well underway constructing the new link bridge that will run parallel to Colonnade viaduct and connect the two sections of public, accessible promenade and the new stilling basin, where Dawlish Water runs into the sea. The abutments and piers – pillars that support the spans – are in place and scaffolding is up for construction of the deck.

Since the summer, the team has been continuing its work to construct the new stilling basin at Colonnade breakwater, where Dawlish Water runs into the sea. The new structure sits on the footprint of the old basin but is much stronger and is designed to take energy out of the waves, reducing some of the beach material being deposited under the viaduct.

Access to the beach and King’s Walk promenade at Colonnade underpass currently remains closed for safety reasons while the link bridge and stilling basin are being built. The promenade, beach and Coryton Cove can still be reached via the diversion over the stepped footbridge near Kennaway Tunnel. The underpass will reopen when it is safe to do so.

The first section of new sea wall – which runs for 360 metres along Marine Parade south west of Dawlish station – was completed in July 2020. Construction of the 415 metre second section – stretching from Coastguard breakwater northeast of Dawlish station to Colonnade breakwater – began in November 2020 and was substantially completed in August 2022 following the installation of 164 wall panels, 203 pre-cast blocks and 189 recurve units, which return waves back out to sea.

This innovative design, coupled with the increased height of the new sea wall, will help prevent delays and disruption to passengers by minimising the likelihood of the tracks flooding and allowing the line to reopen more quickly after major storms.

In addition to the progress being made constructing the link bridge, work has also started on the lift shafts for the new accessible footbridge for Dawlish station, which is due for completion in summer 2023. The team will be working around the clock over the Christmas period, when trains aren’t running, to install the bridge foundations closest to the tracks.

Julie Gregory, Network Rail’s Senior Sponsor, said: “Since the unexpected delay following the discovery of an uncharted gas main this summer, the team has made great progress and these pictures show how the link bridge and stilling basin are really taking shape.

“Completion will now depend on the weather as we enter the autumn and winter months with the possibility of heavy rain or storms slowing us down. We anticipate the link bridge and area around the new stilling basin area will open to the public in December this year, along with the beach between Coastguard and Colonnade breakwaters.

“At that stage, however, a section of promenade between the station building and Coastguard footbridge will remain closed for safety reasons while the accessible footbridge is under construction. We will make sure as much of the public area and seating as possible is available on both sides of the closure and will fully open the promenade as soon as we are able to safely do so.

“We’d like to thank the community of Dawlish and all of our lineside neighbours and passengers for their continued support and patience while we complete this landmark project.”

The new sea wall at Dawlish is part of Network Rail’s ongoing efforts since 2014 to improve the resilience of the railway between Dawlish and Teignmouth in Devon, known as the South West Rail Resilience Programme (SWRRP).

For more information and to follow the latest developments on the new sea wall at Dawlish, please visit

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Rob Breckon
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