Agenda item

Presentation by  Network Rail.


Ms Julie Gregory (Senior Sponsor) and Ms Sarah Fraser (Project Manager), Network Rail, made a presentation to the Committee, giving an overview of recent resillence programme developments which had seen £150m investment so far (for Phases 1 - 4) following the particularly damaging 2014 storms, highlighting the criticality of this vital link connecting the South West to the rest of the country.  Developments in summary were as follows:-


(a)/(b) Phases 1 and 2: Dawlish, Marine Parade (sea wall, finished in summer 2020); and Colonnade to Coastguard’s Ramp Resilience (sea wall resilience due to be in place summer 2022). 


Carbon footprint reduction design measures for these phases helped to mitigate the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels.


Additionally, station works including a new lift bridge were due in 2023 as part of Phase 2.


Recent progress included:-  the completion of Phase 2a; reopening of the Coastguard’s footbridge and heritage features on the promenade.


Current works included:-  platform works improving the station; a new accessible bridge by 2023; Dawlish Water temporary diversion, permit conditions included an eel ramp; stilling basin works and promenade around the back of the station.


Remaining resilience works of this phase were due to be completed in the next few weeks, but required some safety diversions/closures primarily on weekdays affecting beach and promenade access.


(c) Phase 3: Parsons Tunnel North Portal Resilience

Rockfall shelter and geotechnical cliff works were underway now and over the next year, with some significant site constraints and challenging ground conditions;


(d) Phase 4: Dawlish to Holcombe Cliff Resilience

Funding to stabilise the cliffs was announced in April 2022, with consents required for land drainage, SSI and Conservation areas.  The contract was due to be awarded in Autumn 2022 with a Spring 2023 start; and


(e) Phase 5: Parsons Tunnel to Teignmouth Resilience

Works to stabilise cliffs still required funding to be secured.  Current ground investigations were being carried out.  Due to public concern regarding the design’s impact, this phase was being further examined, with proposals for further public discussions expected in Autumn 2022.


Members’ comments/discussion (and Network Rail responses in brackets) in summary included):-


-Choice of platform surfacing material queried, i.e. laying tarmac on concrete (NB: Network Rail response received post meeting:- Tarmac was there previously, although much faded in colour and patched up and was a fit-for-purpose material due to its properties: hardwearing, easy to maintain into the future, very workable and resilient. The use of tarmac was agreed with Teignbridge District Council via a planning condition);


-Significant concern at the safety closures effecting beach access and disabled access over the summer season effecting tourism and local businesses who were requesting compensation.  Members requested there should be a presumption to keep access open; improved public messaging and communications; and liaison with the local County Councillors on how to mitigate the effects of any closures (Network Rail in acknowledging the concerns would re-examine public messaging/access but this should not raise expectation.  Some assistance had already been agreed with the individual café directly affected);


-Environmental lighting considerations (Network Rail confirmed this was downlighting);


-Restitution works (Network Rail advised measures were to enhance biodiversity rather than just carry out restitution works, e.g. to include fields above the cliffs);


-Key drainage considerations for all outstanding phases (importance acknowledged);


-Low carbon concrete capabilities (testing/modelling undertaken);


-Phase 5 review of alternative solutions was welcome; and


-The early involvement of local County Councillors in any key stages was requested to try to mitigate the impact on local residents and help to achieve the best solutions for the local community (Network Rail acknowledged the involvement and role of stakeholders including local County Councillors).


RESOLVED: that Network Rail representatives be thanked for their presentation, noting that their response would be provided on any outstanding Member issues raised above, as appropriate.