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Work begins on section of new Dawlish sea wall which will help protect vital rail artery for next 100 years

Network Rail has started work on the second section of the new, bigger sea wall at Dawlish, Devon, to protect the railway and town from rising sea levels, and extreme weather, for generations to come.

Construction of this next section of the 80 million upgrade will take around two years to complete and follows years of detailed studies, designs and joint working between world-leading marine, coastal and railway engineering experts.

The first part, from Dawlish station to the Coastguard breakwater east of the station is expected to be completed in late 2021. The final part between the station and the Colonnade breakwater, which will link up the new wall at Marine Parade, will start to be built shortly after.

A major aspect of this work involves the use of an innovative eight-legged, self-contained walking jack-up barge, known as a 'Wavewalker'. The 'Wavewalker' is only one of its kind in Europe and it will be the first time this type of barge has been used to maintain the UK rail network.

This innovative piece of equipment will be used by contractors BAM Nuttall to safely access the sea face of the railway embankment along Marine Parade and help deliver the piling at the sea wall. The 'Wavewalker' benefits from being able to operate across high tidal ranges that particularly impact the south Devon coastline, that would otherwise restrict the number of hours it is possible to safely work on the sea wall.

Once complete the 415 metre section of new sea wall will be higher than the existing wall; have a curved edge to send waves back towards the sea; have a high-level, wider and safer promenade; pedestrian access to the beach and an accessible station footbridge with lifts.

As part of Network Rail's commitment to spending money locally, the scheme will also deliver an important boost to the south Devon economy with as much as 10 million expected to be spent with local businesses during the second phase of work.

This follows the 5 million spent on local labour, materials and accommodation during the first section of the new sea wall, which was completed earlier this year.

The new sea wall is vital, not just for Dawlish but for the whole of the South West peninsula as the railway connects communities in 50 towns and cities with the rest of the UK. In 2014, a devastating storm struck the Dawlish coastline severely damaging the railway, cutting off communities and costing millions of pounds to fix. It is hoped projects such as the new sea wall at Dawlish will increase the resilience of the railway in the South West for at least the next 100 years and ensure communities remain connected via the railway network.

BAM Nuttall, along with BAM Construct UK and BAM PPP in the UK, is one of Royal BAM Group's ten operating companies. BAM delivers exceptional engineering, design, construction, property management, and investment services. The Group has a turnover of 7 billion annually, is listed on Euronext, Amsterdam, and employs approximately 20,000 people. BAM Nuttall employs approximately 3,000 people.

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