Tuesday 19 Jan 2016
Task force formed to speed Dover sea wall railway rebuilding as beach protection work continues
- South East
A task force led by Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke has been created to help with the work to rebuild the railway between Dover and Folkestone and reduce the impact on passengers.
The line has been closed since Christmas Eve 2015 after storms damaged the sea wall at Shakespeare Beach in Dover.
Network Rail and its partner Costain have been working to protect the railway and sea wall since those storms, with more than 9,000 tonnes of rock armour already placed on the beach and another 9,000 tonnes expected to arrive in the next week. In addition, design teams have been working on a long-term solution to the damage.
Network Rail’s route managing director, Alasdair Coates, said: “This task force is a positive step forward for our project and will make a big difference to what will be a major civil engineering challenge for us.
“We realise that passengers in Dover, Deal, Folkestone and Sandwich are keen to know when we will be able to reopen the line and I can reassure them we are working very hard to get them an answer.
“This is a vulnerable stretch of railway and we have to find the right design to last many more years into the future. As soon as we have a design and a timescale we are confident in, we will let everyone know.”
Charlie Elphicke MP said: “I know how tough things are for commuters and rail users. I am doing everything I can to ensure Network Rail gets our railway back open as soon as possible. The high speed rail link is crucial to the developments we have planned in Dover and Deal. It's important the line is repaired as soon as possible - yet we must also make sure the repaired line is safe, secure and built to last.”
David Statham, managing director at Southeastern, said: “The loss of a large part of our railway has meant we’ve had to make changes to our services. These have been made so that everyone in the area has access to travel, but are temporary and are by no means perfect. We are adaptable to the changing nature of this work and will run our normal services as soon as we can. In the meantime, we are working with Network Rail and other stakeholders to provide the best possible service. This task force will also allow us to work closely together to get the job done well and the line between Dover and Folkestone reopened as soon as possible.”
The working group includes Network Rail, Southeastern, MPs Charlie Elphicke, Damian Collins, and Craig McKinley, Dover District Council and Kent County Council. It will be sharing information and helping tackle any administrative or bureaucratic hurdles which may affect the work to reconstruct or repair the railway.
The railway at Shakespeare Beach dates from the 1840s, and was originally built on a wooden viaduct.
This viaduct was encased in a concrete wall in 1927, and the wooden viaduct left in place surrounded by chalk recovered from the demolition of a former tunnel at Archcliffe.
Storms lowered the beach level at Shakespeare by almost two metres in the lead up to Christmas and led to the exposure of the foot of the wall to the full force of the sea. This led to sink holes appearing in the railway above, which have continued to develop as the chalk infill has become destabilised.
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 36,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.