The fight for a secure south western mainline is not over

 

Five years after the 2014 storms that destroyed the rail line at Dawlish, Chris Grayling announced an £80m investment in strengthening the sea wall. For Andrea Davis, Chair of the Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF), the fight for a secure south western mainline is not over.

When Dawlish collapsed five years ago, it was part of a combination of events that devastated the peninsula economy. Alongside the closure of Cowley Bridge at Exeter, and the flooding of the Somerset Levels, for a short time the south west was effectively cut off from the rest of the country. The cost to the region’s economy has been estimated at £1.2bn.

”Local
Vulnerable: The rail line at Dawlish

Set up during the aftermath of the collapse, the PRTF has campaigned long and hard for the Government to ensure that the South West has a strategic rail network fit for purpose.

I was with the secretary of state when he visited Dawlish last week, on the 15th February, to announce the new funding. The Government has made a number of assurances to us over the past five years that Dawlish is the number one rail priority and I was glad to see this evidence of its good intentions. The major resilience works to the Dawlish seawall that this funding can deliver are long overdue.

The announcement of funding to address the vulnerability the line at Dawlish is welcome, but rail resilience along the main Great Western line is far from secure. Dawlish has remained exposed to storms and bad weather ever since the collapse.

In November 2018, 30% of CrossCountry trains terminated early at Exeter as a result of sea spray and adverse weather conditions. It is unacceptable that services are disrupted and we hope that Network Rail’s proposal for a higher seawall at Dawlish will resolve this issue.

However fundamentally, if the franchise is unable to operate with the weather conditions experienced along the railway, it is not fit for purpose.

Either the terms of the franchise should include significant penalty payments if the operator fails to run the service along the whole extent of the route, or the franchise should be opened up to other options.

Even now, rail passengers have to transfer to buses on a regular basis as a precautionary measure. The section of the line between Parsons Tunnel and Teignmouth is still susceptible to closures because of the risk from loose material coming down from the cliff top.

It cannot take another five years for the Government to make the next announcement. When compared with the investment going into HS2, we are simply asking for a rail network that works. As a matter of priority, Network Rail and the Department for Transport must find solutions to ensure the resilience of the line around Parsons Tunnel.

PRTF’s work is not all focused on rail infrastructure, critical though that is. In January, we met with South West MPs to discuss PRTF’s immediate priorities, which include the delivery of improved mobile and WiFi connectivity along the rail network, as well as a commitment from the Department of Transport to increase trains between Plymouth and Penzance to two per hour.

The PRTF will continue to work with Network Rail and the Department for Transport to ensure that the Parsons Tunnel works remain a top rail priority, and that the Government allocates funding for Network Rail to commence the next stage of resilience works as soon as plans are submitted.

The railway is essential to the South West economy. It must remain open regardless of weather conditions, so that trains can operate all year round. The line’s vulnerability during adverse weather cannot be allowed to dictate the level of service endured by passengers in the region.

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Senior Clerk of Works

Bedford Borough Council
£27,905 - £30,507 + market rate supplement £2,630 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Service Manager – Network Management

Somerset County Council
£46,122 per annum
A number of exciting permanent opportunities have arisen to drive forward further improvements to our traffic related services. Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Principal Traffic Control Engineer

Somerset County Council
£33,799 to £37,849 per annum
A number of exciting permanent opportunities have arisen to drive forward further improvements to our traffic related services. Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Assistant Engineer

Bedford Borough Council
£31,371 - £32,878 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Senior Technician

Bedford Borough Council
£27,905 - £30,507 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Engineering Technician

Bedford Borough Council
£24,313 - £26,999 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Engineer – Multiple disciplines

Bedford Borough Council
£33,799 - £36,876 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure.  Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Trainee Engineering Technician

Bedford Borough Council
£21,589 - £23,836 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Senior Asset Engineer

Isle of Man Government
£47,064 - £54,805
The Isle of Man is a special place to live and work! Isle of Man (GB) (IM)
Recuriter: Isle of Man Government

Commercial Services Officer - Funerals

Brent Council
£33,291 - £35,724 p.a. inc. plus Standby Allowance
The post will be involved in all aspects of the funeral service Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Transportation Planning Officer x2

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Band F, SCP 26-31 (£29,636 – £33,799 per annum) (£15.36 - £17.52 per hour)
The post holders will be part of a team developing transport policy encompassing all modes of travel Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Highway Asset Engineer

Lambeth Council
£38,403 pa rising in annual increments to £41,466 pa incl LW
Lambeth is a vibrant place with a diverse population and an exciting cultural scene. Lambeth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lambeth Council

Senior Traffic Engineer

East Riding of Yorkshire Council
£32.029 - £34.788 career grade
We need an enthusiastic and experienced traffic engineer to manage our Traffic Team. East Riding of Yorkshire
Recuriter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Senior Community Infrastructure Levy Administration Officer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£32,643 - £44,373
The successful candidate will play a key role in ensuring Richmond and Wandsworth Councils mitigate the... London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Principal Information and Monitoring Officer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£40,183-£47,274 (Grade PO5)
Opportunity has arisen within the Spatial and Transport Planning service for a team leader with demonstrable practical experience of... London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Community Infrastructure Levy Administration Officer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£32,643-£44,373 (Linked Grade PO2- PO4)
There has never been a more challenging – or rewarding – time to work for Richmond and Wandsworth.  London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Engineer – Highways Development Service (HDS)

North Yorkshire County Council
£38,813 - £42,683 pa
We are looking for someone to join the Development Management Team in a new post. Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Senior Development Management Engineer – Section 38

Warwickshire County Council
£37,849 - £39,782
Due to the nature of the role the ability to travel effectively throughout Warwickshire is essential. Warwick, Warwickshire
Recuriter: Warwickshire County Council

Partnerships & Activities Manager

London Borough of Bexley
£31,353 - £36,876
Currently seeking an experienced manager to work in the Parks and Open Spaces Team of Bexley Council’s Communities Department. Bexley (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Chartered Environmental Health Traineeships– 3 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National Minimum Wage (Age appropriate) plus enhancements for night time working
This traineeship opportunity is for graduates to undertake the new Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council