Prime minister Theresa May has said 'world leading experts' are due to report shortly on a 'long-term' resilience plan for the Dawlish railway line, after an MP accused the Department for Transport of dragging its feet.
Ms May conceded that passengers expected better after waiting for five years for action to be taken to build more resilience and a possible additional rail line along the key route to the south west.
In early February 2014 (pictured below), a section of the sea wall in Dawlish, Devon, collapsed, washing away the infrastructure carrying the railway line to Cornwall.
The prime minister highlighted the first phase of work to protect the sea wall at Dawlish began in November, with repairs to the breakwaters, as part of the £15m wider investment to make the railway at Dawlish and Teignmouth more resilient to extreme weather.
Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, told the House of Commons: 'Five years on, that train line remains fragile. We need money, not more press releases. Can the Prime Minister help to unblock the £300m upgrade that the Department for Transport is sitting on and use the anniversary next week to help the south-west—Plymouth and the rest of the far south-west—to keep our train line open and stop it being fragile and precarious?'
Ms May replied: 'Obviously, passengers expect better,' adding that 'world-leading engineers have been carrying out the detailed ground investigations to develop a long-term solution to protect the railway in a way that minimises disruption for passengers'.
'Network Rail will soon be reporting on how it will deliver this solution. I am clear that delivering this improvement to the South-West’s transport infrastructure is a national priority. It is essential for unlocking the region’s economic prosperity and jobs, and that is why we are giving it the focus that we are.'