14 Jan 2010

Keeping the present network intact

Train hit by big wave at Dawlish
Substantial investment will be needed just to keep the present network intact in the face of climate change. On a stormy November night, a Pacer is hit by a big wave as it arrives at Dawlish station, on the main line to Plymouth and Penzance.

Ever since the railway here was opened in 1846, the civil engineers have been engaged in struggle against the elements. Over and over again they have had to strengthen the sea wall on which the line runs. How long can this continue? Sooner or later a new line will be needed, and it will be expensive because it will involve a long tunnel under the range of hills between Exeter and Newton Abbott.

The Teignmouth sea wall route is probably the most difficult line in Britain to keep running in the face of the forces of nature, but there are many others, and investment will be needed to keep these ancient structures in order or provide alternative routes.

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